As the mass media and the establishment figures who keep mainstream outlets afloat continue to beat the drums of war against North Korea, little attention is being paid to one crucial detail regarding the current crisis engulfing the Korean peninsula.
You wouldn’t know it if you were to turn on your television every day or simply skim the media’s headlines, but North Korea has continuously offered to freeze its nuclear program. The very threat we are continuously told to fear could be immediately neutralized but is instead repeatedly rejected by the United States.
However, prominent media outlets such as the Washington Post continue to tell a different story, namely that:
“[North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un] has shown no interest in talks — he won’t even set foot in China, his biggest patron. Even if negotiations took place, the current regime has made clear that ‘it will never place its self-defensive nuclear deterrence on the negotiating table, as one envoy recently put it.”
As the Intercept explains, this is a false assertion:
“There’s of course a significant difference between North Korea saying it will never negotiate to halt or eliminate its nuclear weapons program, and that it will never negotiate as long as the U.S. continues to threaten it…The reality is that North Korea is saying that, under certain conditions, it will put its nuclear weapons on the table.” [emphasis added]
Not only does the media continue to misinform the public on this issue, but as Noam Chomsky explained in an interview with Democracy! Now, the United States continues to categorically reject North Korea’s proposal:
“There is one proposal that’s ignored. You see a mention of it now and then. It’s a pretty simple proposal. Remember the goal is to get North Korea to freeze its weapons systems – weapons and missile systems. One proposal is to accept their offer to do that. Sounds simple, they’ve made a proposal – China and North Korea – proposed to freeze the North Korean missile and nuclear weapons systems and the U.S. instantly rejected it. And you can’t blame that on Trump, Obama did the same thing, a couple of years ago. Same offer was presented – I think it was 2015 – the Obama administration instantly rejected it.”
Why would they do that? Why fear North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities but then reject a proposal to freeze their production? As Chomsky explains further:
“The reason is that it calls for a quid pro quo. It says in return the United States should put an end to threatening military maneuvers on North Korea’s borders, which happen to include under Trump, sending of nuclear-capable B-52s flying right near the border. Maybe Americans don’t remember very well but North Koreans have a memory of not too long ago when North Korea was absolutely flattened – literally – by American bombing. There was literally no targets left.” [emphasis added]
In the early 1950s, the U.S. relentlessly bombed North Korea, destroying over 8,700 factories, 5,000 schools, 1,000 hospitals, 600,000 homes, and eventually killing off as much as 20 percent of the country’s population. As the Asia Pacific Journal has noted, the U.S. did, indeed, drop so many bombs that they eventually ran out of targets to hit and bombed the irrigation systems, instead:
“By the fall of 1952, there were no effective targets left for US planes to hit. Every significant town, city and industrial area in North Korea had already been bombed. In the spring of 1953, the Air Force targeted irrigation dams on the Yalu River, both to destroy the North Korean rice crop and to pressure the Chinese, who would have to supply more food aid to the North. Five reservoirs were hit, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, inundating whole towns and laying waste to the essential food source for millions of North Koreans.” [emphasis added]
Despite the people and leadership of North Korea knowing this history and the history of other like-minded states who became easy targets for the U.S. military upon dismantling their weapons programs, North Korea is still to this day offering this proposal to freeze its program.
As the Intercept explained at the end of August:
“North Korea’s proclamations have been closely tracked by Robert Carlin, currently a visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and formerly head of the Northeast Asia Division in the State Department’s intelligence arm. Carlin has visited North Korea over 30 times.
“Via email, Carlin described how it is difficult but critical to accurately decode North Korean communications. ‘Observers dismiss as unimportant what the North Koreans say,’ Carlin writes, and ‘therefore don’t read it carefully, except of course if it is colorful, fiery language that makes for lovely headlines. Some of what the North says is simply propaganda and can be read with one eye closed. Other things are written and edited very carefully, and need to be read very carefully. And then, having been read, they need to be compared with past statements, and put in context.’”
The media’s insistence that North Korea will never give up its weapons systems is completely disingenuous when one reads the entire context of the statements offered by Kim Jong-un’s government. On July 4, Kim’s statement read as follows:
“[T]he DPRK would neither put its nukes and ballistic rockets on the table of negotiations in any case nor flinch even an inch from the road of bolstering the nuclear force chosen by itself unless the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat to the DPRK are definitely terminated.” [emphasis added]
Quid pro quo.
This is a deal-breaker for the U.S. even though it would undoubtedly diffuse the entire situation and provide the region with at least a brief period of stability.
The U.S., together with South Korea, simulates an invasion of North Korea every year. In Donald Trump’s first six months in office, he dropped over 20,650 bombs in approximately seven countries, which killed thousands of civilians. By comparison, Kim Jong-un bombs the ocean.
No matter how objectively you look at it, North Korea has a genuine reason to want to be prepared in the face of American aggression. But a military strike option to counter any potential North Korean threat is not the only option and, further, is almost certainly the worst option on the table.
After the failures and crimes of U.S. politicians and the military in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Afghanistan — to name a few — we should be demanding that our world leaders try the diplomatic option advanced by the North Korean regime to the fullest extent in order to avoid a potential nuclear holocaust and the deaths of millions of innocent civilians.