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The Dogs of War

Written By: - Date published: 9:12 pm, January 31st, 2018 - 20 comments
Categories: helen clark, jacinda ardern, us politics, war, winston peters - Tags:

At a Union/NDP conference in March 2002 in Ottawa I saw wall-to-wall US TV attacking Iraq in my room. My caucus report  that America was going to war was instinctive. Helen Clark stood up immediately and said that we wouldn’t be following. The US war dogs are barking again, this time over Korea.

A recent article in Jacobin  magazine had this assessment of the inside debate in the Trump administration:

While there have been hopeful signs in recent days, the administration remains deeply divided on North Korea. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis are skeptical of military action, but National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster is apparently a strong proponent. McMaster’s more hawkish line has been echoed by UN ambassador Nikki Haley and CIA director Mike Pompeo, both of whom have been floated as potential replacements for Tillerson. If Tillerson leaves — or gets the boot — the balance of power could easily shift in the hawks’ favor.

The Japan Times notes that as there has been a definite uptick in the war rhetoric, the United States has also been moving military assets into the region and increasing training for a ground war.

Amid this palace intrigue, the United States is quietly moving military assets — bombers, ships, and fighter jets — into the Pacific region. These moves could be bluffs in support of what is at least honestly called “coercive diplomacy.” But they have a materiality too — and serve to remind us that war lurks as a real possibility.

Statements such as those of Marine Commandant General Neller that Marines will have to ‘steel themselves for a very tough fight in North Korea’ are as usual backed away from when they become public.

Our Foreign Minister Winston Peters was at a meeting in Canada convened by Tillerson to discuss the Korean situation. Ostensibly about increasing sanctions, Russia and China, states bordering North Korea, were not there. It was a meeting of allies in the Korean war that started in 1950 and has still not ended.

The Japan Times reported Tillerson’s words after the meeting:

On Tuesday, during a gathering in Canada of U.S. allies on how to beef up sanctions pressure on the North, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued some of his strongest words yet for Pyongyang, saying that time was running out for the isolated regime.

“We all need to be very sober and clear-eyed about the current situation,” Tillerson said when asked whether Americans should be concerned about the possibility of a war. “We have to recognize that the threat is growing and that if North Korea does not choose the pathway of engagement, discussion, negotiation then they themselves will trigger an option.”

But perhaps most tellingly of the shifting tone was Tillerson’s answer to a reporter’s question about reported talk in the White House of a limited military strike, what some have called the “bloody nose” option.

Although Tillerson, who has advocated for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, refrained from directly answering the question, the top U.S. diplomat effectively admitted the Trump administration has been considering such a move at the highest levels when he said he would not speak “on issues that have yet to be decided among the National Security Council or the president.”

Contacted by The Japan Times for comment on Tillerson’s remarks, the State Department was sanguine.

“I would advise against attempting to extract any ‘effective confirmation’ beyond the points clearly stated by Secretary Tillerson,” State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson said in an email. “We will not parse his words.”

Cleary not convinced, the article went on to provide this sobering assessment from Van Jackson, a North Korea expert and Senior Lecturer here at Victoria University of Wellington. Jackson is a former policy adviser in the U.S. office of the Secretary of Defense.

(Jackson) said Tillerson’s remarks confirmed his belief that the White House has already been “on a war footing.”

“President Trump and some on his team have been actively shutting down off-ramps from the current nuclear crisis. That Tillerson is now saying these same things is disturbing because it suggests he’s been told behind closed doors to get in line.”

Jackson said his concerns, “which Tillerson substantiates,” is that Washington’s policy of heaping “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang is merely “a box-checking exercise aimed at trying to rally international backing behind the U.S. as much as possible before launching into a war, whether by ‘bloody nose’ or an Iraq-style invasion.”

He said the international community sees backing the maximum pressure campaign, of which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been one of the strongest proponents, “as a way of keeping the U.S. from taking rash action.”

“But it’s looking like the Trump administration is viewing it the opposite way — getting the international community to back maximum pressure so that they’ll be locked in to the next logical step — conflict — when it fails,” Jackson added.

Malcom Turnbull is already on record as saying that Australia will support the US if it comes to war. It is sincerely to be hoped that the New Zealand government led by Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters will not find itself locked into conflict if Donald Trump is the one who decides that diplomatic pressure and sanctions have failed. An article in Vox today makes the point that Trump’s state of the Union speech today resembled George Bush’s argument for war with Iraq.

We should be seeking clarity and assurances now from our government and supporting every effort for peace.

 

 

 

 

20 comments on “The Dogs of War”

  1. Ad 1

    Not reasonable to compare North Korea to Bush and Iraq.
    The UN resolution violations from NorthKorea are over decades, and accelerating.

    I have no solutions and am not proposing war.

    Personally I am surprised Japan has been so restrained.

    • Anon 1.1

      Japans military is constrained to local defense, they require the US military for any action at distance from their borders. Also, Japan is pretty close – in a conflict either side firing nukes would be a huge problem for them, so probably they’re just not insane.

      • Exkiwiforces 1.1.1

        Old Abe, is trying to change the Japanese Constitution to allow the Government to deploy combat troops overseas on deployment without the need of having a UN Mandate and even then its only for Non- Combat troops in a Non Combat role.

        But one could look at, if there was conflict on the Korean Peninsula then Japan could see this as a direct threat to its country with out the need to violate its constitution if the Nth Korea attack first, but it maybe a different story if Trump wacks the North first.

    • The UN resolution violations from NorthKorea are over decades, and accelerating.

      Possibly but were they even valid?

      Please note: Since the DPRK dropped out of the NPT the international community has no legal right to sanction them for developing nuclear weapons or nuclear power.

      The international community has no right to sanction them for developing missiles to defend themselves at all.

      • McFlock 1.2.1

        Nuclear missiles are an existential threat to every nation within range. Every nation with nuclear weapons is like being in a bar and pointing a gun at everyone around them. And yes, I include the yanks in that.

        As to NK specifically, I suspect it’ll go the way of Romania. Whether large powers sticking their fingers in will prolong it like in Syria (again including all large powers in that, including the US as well as Russia and Turkey), the pessimist in me says yes. So there will probably be a locally-used home-produced nuclear weapon.

        But who knows what the fucking yanks will do on a good day. I can see why China and Russia would be cool with a highly oppressive and slightly nutty buffer state, but the yanks? It’s whether some folks smell money, the military wants to prove they can actually win a war, the executive branch need a distraction or the folks who smell money a re campaign donors… Who knows? Trump might just press the red button if Fox over-egg it one morning.

        • Exkiwiforces 1.2.1.1

          Yep, when one looks at the bigger picture as this could really blow up in the Yanks face big time. As I see the China going to the aid of the Nth as China has said in the pass and of late that it will go to the aid of the Nth if the US and Allies attack first. Russia will make its move East at the Baltic States, Finland and possibly Sweden as old Putin wants to rebuild the old Russia Empire, while at the same time I can see China making a move on Taiwan and on the South China Sea to disrupt Taiwan’s, Sth Koreas and Japans Sea Lanes of Commination (SLOC) and this will have far greater effect on NZ’s trade to the greater Asian region. God only knows what the Middle East will do? Possibly Israel and the house of Saud might have a crack at Iran or the other way round? then that will be a real shit fight of a war.

          All because the China, Russia and Iran know that the Yanks and some degree her Allies can’t fight a two front war let alone a multi- front war. All 3 countries know the US, Western Nation and her Allies their Critical Vulnerabilities (CV’s), but some countries will do better than others as they still trained the old fashion way in Field craft, battle craft and bush craft skill sets etc than the Yanks do.

          Little old NZ will get suck into this whirlpool of a shit fight either way as a result of the lost decade in 90’s towards the NZDF and short terms politics of both Political Parties towards the NZDF, Foreign affairs and Trade Polices. A few chickens will start coming home to roost sooner or later starting with the NZDF or Foreign Affairs then Trade will follow in 3rd place and i’ll leave everyone else to work out what the 4th and 5th place getters will be.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1.2

          Nuclear missiles are an existential threat to every nation within range.

          I didn’t say that they weren’t. I was pointing out that there’s no legal right to sanction the DPRK for developing or having them.

  2. Lloyd 2

    I haven’t noticed the North Koreans building airbases on reclaimed islands in the South China Sea.

  3. Stuart Munro 3

    Better on the whole to follow South Korea’s lead on the issue – they’re better informed, and they have the most to lose. They’ve said before that a unilateral US strike exceeds the behavior they will tolerate from an ally.

  4. Jackel 4

    It’s all talk, I just can’t believe even the Americans would be this stupid.

  5. Wayne 5

    Notwithstanding the Trump rhetoric, the situation is not remotely like Iraq 2002.

    In my view there is almost zero chance of a major war over Korea. Ultimately the US will live with a North Korean bomb. Any negotiated deal will be about ICBM’s capable or reaching continental US. The North Koreans will abandon that goal if they got some advantage out of negotiations. After all a bomb that threatens South Korea, and more particularly Japan, is almost certainly is an effective deterrent against unilateral US military action.

    The military equation is not as nearly as favourable as Iraq 2002. North Korea would not collapse like Iraq. It would be a bloody fight and probably would not even succeed.

    In 1950 the Chinese intervened on the side of the North and pushed the US and allies back to the 38th parallel. The US can’t be sure that in extremis the Chinese might do the same again. The alternative of a “surgical” strike would almost certainly fail to deal with all the North Korean nuclear weapons. So poor options in either case.

    Trump’s rhetoric is all about getting North Korea to talk about the things that matter to the US, the ICBM’s. He might yet succeed on that.

    • Exkiwiforces 5.1

      Actually Wayne, China has said publicly that if North Korea attacks the South they are on their own, but the flip side to that if the US and it’s Allies wack the North first then China will come to its Aid as every country has a right to self defence against any aggressor and has the right to call for help. There also the Chinese and North Korea self defence security treaty which I can’t recall its name, but was signed back in the 60’s in case if Nth Korea was attacked by the US and it’s Allies.

    • SPC 5.2

      The North Koreans would only give up nuclear missiles (that could reach USA) when American forces leave South Korea (and the air defence missiles with them).

      This is their leverage.

      That leaves the North and South to turn the historic cease-fire into a peace arrangement.

  6. Philg 6

    Aren’t wars always started by false flags, and deceptions? The notion of ‘they started it’ makes as much sense as a front row brawl.

  7. SPC 7

    This is not about war it is about how the USA deals with something it cannot stop (North Korea getting the capacity to launch a nuclear strike on the USA).

    As China has vetoed a military strike on North Korea, there are only two outcomes.

    1. the USA withdraws its military from Korea (including the latest air defence missiles) and the North and South develop a permanent peace in place of the cease-fire. The China will love this option.

    2. the USA keeps its forces in South Korea, and deepens the presence of the latest air defence missiles there and in Japan. Sells more weapons to the neighbours of China (maybe Taiwan as well). The China will hate this option.

    Trump is begging for bi-partisanship because he wants to share the defeat with Congress.

  8. Eco Maori 8

    This war mongering is not just about North Korea’s nuclear weapons this is all about Donald trumps public ratings crashing in the USA and around the World. This idiot does not care who he destroys /The Worlds people /economiy. All he cares about is holding onto the unbelievable power that he wields over everyone on papatuanuku and avoid impeachment get a second term as president. What better way is there to rally the American people behind him than to start a war and who gives a shit about who they kill.The people that are backing Trumps WAR CRY have vested interest IE Northop Grumman/Lockheed Martin /Bae Systems /General Dynamics/Raytheon /Boeing to these organizations lives don’t matter one bit this is there God $$$$$€£¥₩ YOU see everyone on papatuanuku is a slave to the USA Except the 1%. USA biggest export is the green back we all have to use the US dollar to trade in export imports it’s obvious that every transaction a % is payed to have the privilege /forced to use the greenback.
    So all the USA has to do is print more dollars to boost it economic power this action diminishes the wealth of the rest of the World .P.S. I don’t think Trump has worked out how the reserve currencies work lol . I Say the rest of the country’s around the World has a obligation to tell America that we have had enough of this bullshit WAR everytime a US president want to boost his pockets or his public ratings full stop.


    Here’s Nomam Chomsky view on our futures reality

    12:21
    Noam Chomsky – The Most Dangerous Organization in Human History
    Chomsky’s Philosophy

    Ana to kai

  9. Eco Maori 10

    Do we really want to let America to imposes there society living standards on US THE REST OF THE WORLD. HERE A LINK TO SHAMELESS USA this is a eye opener watch episode 11 that’s what I tried to link to.

    https://putlockertv.se/watch/shameless-8.z1wow/2884nl

    Ka kite ano

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