[ Ed. note – The BRICS nations–Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa–will be holding a summit in Xiamen, China on September 4 and 5.
In a commentary on the upcoming meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin expresses the view that the Korean peninsula “is balancing on the brink of a large-scale conflict.” Putin’s concerns are warranted. For 11 days, from August 21-31, the US carried out massive war games exercises with South Korea and several other countries. On August 20, one day before the war games were set to start, I put up a post warning that “the next 11 days are going to be tense and dangerous.”
Indeed, on Tuesday, August 29, with the games still in progress, North Korea test fired another missile–this one flying over Japan and landing in the Pacific Ocean. The mainstream media and the Trump administration responded with the usual hysterics, Trump posted some inflammatory tweets, and on Thursday, the final day of the games, the US carried out a massive joint bombing drill near the DMZ which surely must have made mountains move and the earth tremble on the North Korean side of the border.
In the article below, Finian Cunningham discusses the upcoming BRICS summit, Putin’s commentary, and the precarious situation now unfolding on the Korean peninsula. As he comments, “The risk of misunderstanding is grave and increasing with each round of bellicose exchange.” The article is well worth reading and pondering.
Cunningham talks about the “tit-for-tat” brinksmanship Trump has been engaging in with Kim Jong-un, but an interesting aspect to all this is that what we are seeing in reality is a “double tit-for-tat,” you might say–for simultaneous to the tit-for-tat one-upmanship with North Korea, we also see the US engaged in a childish tit-for-tat diplomatic confrontation with Russia over the closure of embassy and consular properties. It all makes you wonder if there are any sane heads left in Washington. ]
By Finian Cunningham
The ninth annual summit of the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – comes at a critical time. Ahead of the two-day conference opening Sunday in China’s southern port city of Xiamen, Russian President Vladimir Putin published an article warning that the North Korea crisis is “on the brink of large-scale conflict.”
Few people doubt that if the US and North Korea go to war the conflict will result in the use of nuclear weapons, with millions of people’s lives in the balance.
Since the crisis blew up again about two months ago, there has been a dangerous tit-for-tat bellicose exchange between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Coupled with the fiery rhetoric is a seemingly never-ending display of military force by both sides.
Earlier this week, North Korea fired a missile that flew 2,700 kilometers over Japanese territory landing in the Pacific. Pyongyang warned that its next target would be the Pacific island of Guam where the US has a naval and air base. Two days later, American, Japanese, and South Korean warplanes simulated bombing maneuvers over the Korean Peninsula. The American B1-B bombers involved are nuclear-capable.
This was while Trump was declaring on Twitter that “talking was not an answer” in solving the long-running security crisis between the US and North Korea. US Defense Secretary James Mattis appeared to dial back on Trump’s implicit war threat by quickly emphasizing that there was still room for diplomacy. Mattis later reportedly said, enigmatically, that Trump and himself were on the same page.
It just goes to show how precarious the situation has become and why President Putin’s warning about the region being on the brink of war is apt. The risk of misunderstanding is grave and increasing with each round of bellicose exchange.
Putin is absolutely right. The only way back from the precipice of a nuclear war is for all parties to hold direct dialogue without preconditions.
“Provocations, pressure, and bellicose and offensive rhetoric is the road to nowhere,” wrote Putin in the article cited above. He also said that it was “misguided and futile” for the US to keep putting pressure on North Korea through imposing tougher sanctions in the calculation that it would stop Pyongyang from developing its nuclear missile program.
North Korea has reportedly said that its nuclear program is non-negotiable. With sound reason, Pyongyang cites other nations such as Iraq and Libya which gave up their weapons programs only to be subsequently attacked by the US. The communist state has indicated that it is open to discussions, but that American preconditions of disarmament are null and void.
While US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has hinted at the possibility of future diplomatic talks with North Korea, Washington demands that Pyongyang must first end its nuclear weapons development.
Both China and Russia have called for a “double freeze.” That is, for the US to cancel its annual war maneuvers on the Korean Peninsula and at the same time for Pyongyang to put a halt on its missile testing. Then, the next step would be for multilateral talks to proceed.
It’s not clear if North Korea would accept this Chinese and Russian roadmap for talks. But one thing is clear. Washington has pointedly refused to consider such a trade-off. For the past two weeks, the US has held massive war exercises on the Korean Peninsula with its South Korea and Japanese allies. This is in spite of protests from North Korea, which views the military drills as offensive preparations for an invasion.
Beijing and Moscow’s position on the crisis is the rational way back from the precipice and toward a peaceful solution. As things stand, the spiral of aggression can only inevitably spin out of control with disastrous consequences.
The United States needs to start behaving like a regular member of the United Nations. It needs to abandon its arrogant attitude of being above the law and threatening unilateral use of military force – just because it deems other nations to be unacceptable to its over-inflated sense of self-righteousness.
The US must realize that it is part of the decades-old problem of insecurity on the Korean Peninsula, and largely because it never signed a peace treaty with North Korea at the end of the war in 1953 – a war in which up to two million North Koreans were killed by American carpet bombing. Washington is no position to demand preconditions.
Russia and China’s roadmap is consistently rational – legally, morally, politically. As Putin implies, it behooves all parties to engage as equals without the prejudice and supremacist mentality that infuses the American ultimatums on North Korea to prove itself worthy.
Reacting to the latest North Korea ballistic missile tests, Trump remarked without the slightest shame: “This regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable behavior. Threatening and destabilizing action only increases the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world.”
Trump then signed off with the usual American assumed prerogative to use violence against others, saying: “All options are on the table.”