[News] A Lot of What You Know About North Korea Is Racist Nonsense

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 19 15:58:02 EDT 2017


https://medium.com/defiant/a-lot-of-what-you-know-about-north-korea-is-racist-nonsense-a625256b51cc 



  A Lot of What You Know About North Korea Is Racist Nonsense

by ANDREW DOBBS - April 18, 2017
<https://www.patreon.com/AndrewDobbs>

Less than three months into Pres. Donald Trump’s reign we can already 
say that there is a non-trivial chance that the United States will soon 
be engaged in a nuclear war.

The threat is still remote, but all the pieces are in place. An aircraft 
carrier group /en route/ to North Korea, anonymous sources threatening a 
preemptive strike against them, a recent unilateral attack on the Syrian 
government and the dropping of a 21,000 pound conventional bomb in 
Afghanistan — interpreted by many as a message for North Korea.

Any misjudgments or mistakes could easily spark a shooting war in which 
the North Koreans will face an existential threat they can only resist 
with their nuclear weapons. The United States would be likely to respond 
in kind.

The main thing standing between us and this scenario? The cooler heads 
and good judgement of Trump and Kim Jong-Un.

This is deeply concerning, but to hear the U.S. media tell it all of the 
irrationality and risk in this is on the North Korean side. NBC News, in 
the very article announcing the United States’ threat of unauthorized 
aggression against North Korea, called /it /“volatile and unpredictable.”

Australia’s defense industry minister called North Korea “the world’s 
greatest threat” less than a week after the United States escalated the 
major power conflict in Syria with little warning. And /The New York 
Times/ spoke of China’s need to “rein in” the childish North Koreans, 
even if the United States is the one that’s killed at least 1,000 
civilians in combat since the beginning of 2017.

Western propaganda draws from a deep well of racist “yellow peril” 
prejudice to stoke irrational fears against this tiny, poor, isolated 
country, and it amplifies this paranoia with long-standing stereotypes 
of East Asian “oddity” to dehumanize North Koreans and justify U.S. 
aggression against them.

In the hands of a war-horny bigot like Trump, this well-established, 
bipartisan narrative poses a fearsome threat of making nuclear war 
inevitable. It’s imperative that we answer these lies immediately if we 
are to minimize this risk.

There are three basic pieces to the West’s slander of North Korea — that 
the whole country is “crazy” and especially dangerous, and that North 
Koreans are treacherous and untrustworthy. They can’t be reasoned with, 
they won’t honor any diplomatic agreements, and any moment they could 
fly off the handle and kill millions of people for no reason whatsoever.

This demands extraordinary military pressure from the United States and 
allies and may, alas, require us to destroy them.

Each of these is a perverse misrepresentation. The claim that they are 
insane in particular is a terrific example of gaslighting — an abuse 
tactic where the perpetrator takes steps to make their victim act or 
feel crazy and then uses those responses as proof of the victim’s 
irrationality, a justification for further abuse.

North Korea, by way of context, is bordered on the north by China and 
the south by South Korea. South Korea hosts 28,500 U.S. soldiers, 
sailors, Marines and airmen, many of them literally amassed at the 
border with the North. On their east is the Sea of Japan, and across 
that is a nation which brutally occupied Korea for decades.

The North Koreans are surrounded on all sides by countries that have 
invaded or occupied them in living memory, and the world’s most powerful 
military is still technically at war with them and poised to invade at 
moment’s notice.

This is the sort of scenario that would make any country not merely 
paranoid, but legitimately insecure. In light of U.S. military 
aggression against countries that choose to resist our global 
order — see Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. — North Korea can choose to 
capitulate or focus tremendous resources on building up their defensive 
capabilities.

USS ‘Carl Vinson’ heads toward South Korea in March 2017. U.S. Navy photo

Also in living memory there is the time the United States killed a 
quarter of the North Korean population and leveled the country’s urban 
centers, leaving almost no structures standing in Pyongyang. The North 
Koreans didn’t capitulate then and it isn’t on the table now — defense 
and defiance it is, and this is hardly “crazy” in context.

The U.S. media, however, never provide this context and instead they 
present North Korean military propaganda as being unhinged and 
aggressive. They never compare this, of course, to U.S. military 
flyovers at sporting events or the ceremonial induction of new soldiers 
at halftime, or even to our National Anthem with its celebration of 
bombings and rockets and warfare.

If North Korea is “crazy” for its militarism, then the United States is 
downright certifiable.

U.S. propaganda can dismiss North Korea’s legitimate concerns so easily 
because of the underlying racist assumption that these are a bizarre and 
simple-minded people that believe in things like unicorns. This feeds 
off of and into orientalist logic that sees East Asians as a nearly 
subhuman “other” that can’t be reasoned with and so must be handled with 
force.

It worked when we needed to justify violence against immigrant laborers 
in the 19th century and it works to justify our imperialist expansion today.

As for claims about North Korea’s unique danger to the world, this too 
is divorced from reality. The country has no meaningful power projection 
capability — its naval surface vessels can’t operate more than about 50 
kilometers off the coast — and the U.S. military has them contained to 
the south. China is still North Korea’s ally and does not view it as a 
significant military threat. North Korea is contained.

But what about those missiles and nukes? The North Koreans could maybe 
lob a missile at Japan — or maybe not, a missile test on April 15, 2017 
failed — and they could level Seoul with artillery alone. But why would 
they ever do this?

The only way to explain such a unilateral assault on any of their 
neighbors — which would prompt either U.S. or Chinese military assets to 
overwhelm and destroy them — is to go back to that same baseless “crazy” 
claim. They could miscalculate of course, but claims that they are 
especially dangerous almost always rely upon the assumption that they 
might just wig out and bomb everybody for no reason at all at any moment.

Again, this is rooted in an infantilizing, dehumanizing, racist logic.

And any claims of a direct North Korean threat to the United States is 
ludicrous bullshit. They have no weapons capable of reaching anywhere 
within thousands of miles of the United States, and are years away from 
developing it, at best. Even if they reach that goal — which their very 
uneven history of missile tests indicates will be very difficult — they 
would still have thousands of fewer weapons than we do.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits South Korea in March 2017. 
U.S. State Department photo

Any launch of that sort would represent an act of mortal 
desperation — again, it would be totally delusional to launch it 
offensively. Cable news is a much bigger threat to U.S. security than 
North Korea ever will be.

So if North Korea’s military threat is totally derived from their desire 
to preclude a US attack why not negotiate a peace between our country 
and theirs? If they had that sort of assurance we could both back away 
from the brink and perhaps even provide space for an opening in North 
Korean society.

Conventional wisdom answers that the North Koreans have reneged on every 
agreement ever made with them. But if the “crazy” claims are an example 
of gaslighting, this answer is a textbook case of projection. It’s not 
the North Koreans who have betrayed past agreements, but the United 
States. To cover this up we repeat the same racist logic we used against 
Native Americans — we broke the treaties, but they were the “Indian givers.”

The main incident here has to do with the “Agreed Framework between the 
United States of America and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” 
signed between the two countries in 1994. The Agreed Framework — as it 
is usually called — basically traded the end of North Korea’s nuclear 
weapons program for normalized economic and diplomatic relations with 
the United States.

As a good faith step to spur the negotiations North Korea submitted to 
limited weapons inspections while the United States cancelled military 
exercises with South Korea. North Korea also used its plutonium 
production plants for energy, so the United States agreed to work with 
allies to provide them with fuel oil until two light water nuclear 
reactors — nuclear power plants that cannot be weaponized — could be built.

The United States failed to uphold its end of the agreement almost 
immediately. Two weeks after it was signed, Republicans took back 
Congress and labeled the agreement “appeasement.” They never provided 
sufficient funds for providing the fuel oil and the United States never 
met the obligations set in the Agreed Framework.

The Americans also failed to take even the first preliminary steps in 
building the light water reactors for over four years, and then moved at 
such a slow pace that there was no chance of meeting the timelines set 
in the Framework.

Finally, and most significantly, Congress blocked any attempts to begin 
normalizing relations between North Korea and the United States and 
Pres. Bill Clinton never pressed it to do so.

North Korea played along for at least four years and even warned us that 
it was going to restart its nuclear program a year before it actually 
began a pilot program. According to Leon Sigal, author of /Disarming 
Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea/ 
<https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003IHVLAA/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=brightmount05-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B003IHVLAA&linkId=a6e1290bdc86df822ec7f57bd0bd44c6>/, 
/the North Koreans did not shift from this pilot effort to a full-scale 
weapons program until Pres. George W. Bush refused new negotiations in 2001.

North Korea “was playing tit for tat — cooperating whenever Washington 
cooperated and retaliating when Washington reneged, in an effort to end 
enmity,” Sigal wrote in 2007 
<https://cis.mit.edu/sites/default/files/documents/Sigal0207Audit_0.pdf>. 
This extended to the later Six Party Talks between North and South 
Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia which almost brought 
North Korea back into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Talks broke down when the United States refused to release $24 million 
frozen in a Macau bank account, and North Korea tested its first nuclear 
weapon six months later. But for that $24 million there might be no 
nuclear threat from North Korea today.

The fact is that America set such a low priority on disarming North 
Korea because it isn’t dangerous to the United States because it have 
nukes. The North Koreans are dangerous because they refuse to submit to 
our imperial authority and play ball with our global order.

Notice how much less hand-wringing you hear about Pakistan, even though 
it does have a nuclear arsenal probably 15 times the size of North 
Korea’s, while also actively collaborating with jihadists. The 
Pakistanis are subject to the U.S. empire, however, and they buy their 
weapons from the U.S. military-industrial complex, so they are no big deal.

North Korea dares to not only maintain its independence, but to defend 
it by any means necessary. It can’t be rewarded with negotiation. 
America has to destroy North Korea to teach the rest of the world a 
lesson, and this means preparing the U.S. public for nuclear war, 
painting the country as a bunch of war-crazed military aggressors whose 
word can’t be trusted.

Again, this is the definition of projection, taking advantage of racist 
assumptions baked into U.S. politics and culture.

The good news is that it appears that North Korea is acting both 
rationally and politically — not militarily — right now. The country is 
playing the present crisis in such a way as to encourage a favorable 
outcome in South Korea’s upcoming snap presidential election.

A friendlier government there could mean new economic and political 
opportunities as well as new diplomatic backup that could help shift the 
balance in any future negotiations with the United States.

Unfortunately the North Koreans are lined up against the regime of an 
insulated, ignorant, white supremacist warmonger who has learned in the 
last few weeks that the same forces lying about North Korea kiss his ass 
when he escalates military conflicts around the world.

It’s our responsibility to push back against our government and against 
the institutions lying their way into nuclear war.

It’s our responsibility to speak the truth about North Korea — even if 
it challenges our most deep-seated political assumptions — and it’s our 
responsibility, always, to stay defiant.

/Writing is hard. Money is short. Support this reporter./ 
<https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4507168>/Follow DEFIANT on //Facebook/ 
<https://www.facebook.com/theloyalopposition/>/and //Twitter/ 
<https://twitter.com/loyal_oppo>/./

-- 
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863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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