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Boardman writes: "While the threats to North Korea are real and existential, that doesn't preclude some paranoia at the same time."

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) inspecting the Air and Anti-air Force Command of the KPA. (photo: AFP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) inspecting the Air and Anti-air Force Command of the KPA. (photo: AFP)


Paranoia Sells

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

06 April 13

 

North Korean "threats" to world peace can sell military hardware.

hich is the more paranoid statement?

  1. AMERICAN MEDIA: "North Korea is threatening to attack us with nuclear weapons."
  2. or:

  3. NORTH KOREAN MEDIA: "The United States is threatening to attack us with nuclear weapons."

Taking recent events in the U.S. and the Korean peninsula as evidence, while mostly ignoring historical context, the drift toward another American war in Asia can be seen as clearly as the ambiguous moves and countermoves of countries with no obvious motive for war might allow, producing headlines like this in the New York Times of April 4:

North Korea Moves Missile to Coast, but Little Threat Is Seen

According to the Times, "North Korea has been issuing a blistering series of similar threats in recent weeks, citing as targets the American military installations in the Pacific islands of Hawaii and Guam, as well as the United States mainland."

One reason such threats are not always seen as threatening is that North Korea has no missile that can reach the U.S. mainland, and quite likely not even Alaska, Hawaii, or Guam - never mind whether they have any long range missile that can hit anything with any accuracy.

North Koreans Move Missile Closer to U.S.!

The South Korean defense chief reported on April 4 that the North Koreans had moved one longish-range missile to its east coast, maybe 200 miles closer to the U.S., but that missile was still not close enough to come close to the U.S. west coast. Nevertheless, American bases in South Korea and Japan are still presumably reachable targets, as are Korean and Japanese civilians. Most of China and eastern Russia are also within range. [Later reports said the North Koreans had moved two mobile missiles to the coast.]

The U.S. recently deployed a land-based anti-missile missile system to Guam, which is beyond the range of North Korea's operational missiles. The U.S. has also moved at least two Aegis-class missile-cruisers to patrol waters close to North Korea. While the Aegis system has the capability of attacking targets on land, in the air, and under water, its most notable exploit to date was the 1988 downing of an Iranian passenger plane, killing 290 civilians.

On March 29, CNN reported somewhat breathlessly that "North Korea has entered a 'state of war' with neighboring South Korea," which ignores the reality that the state of war between the two countries has existed since 1950, although an armistice was agreed to in 1953. Fitful efforts to negotiate a formal peace treaty have continued for 60 years, leaving the United Nations Command in place to the present. North Korea has previously rejected the armistice at least five other times, in 1994, 1996, 2003, 2006, and 2009.

Americans Should Be Afraid of Missiles That Can't Reach America

Exaggerating the CNN story, the Newsweek/Daily Beast editors gave it this scary headline - "North Korea Prepares Strike on U.S.' - which had no meaningful basis in reality. Amplifying the fear the next day, NBC News ran a disappointingly low-key story under the ramped-up headline:

North Korea puts rockets on standby as US official warns regime is no 'paper tiger'

Peter Hart of FAIR has explored the one-sidedness of American media coverage and its reality-distorting effect in detail.

One reason the North Koreans moved their missile was in response to the March 28 U.S. fly-bys along the South Korean border with B-2 bombers quite capable of carrying enough nuclear weapons to obliterate North Korea and set off nuclear winter around the world. Just because these fly-bys with B-2s, B-52s, and other potentially nuclear-armed aircraft were part of military exercises the U.S. and South Koreans put on every year (sometimes using a pretend scenario of invading the North), the U.S. maintains the North shouldn't think of them as in the least provocative. The B-2s flew from a base in Missouri.

Another North Korean reason for moving their missile might have been the American plans to conduct missile defense drills with Japan and South Korea on an on-going basis. This plan follows the "signal" sent earlier in the winter when the U.S. announced plans to increase its anti-missile missile deployment in Alaska and along the Pacific coast.

China Votes for Sanctions, but Remains Wild Card

On March 7, the United Nations Security Council unanimously (15-0) approved a resolution brokered by the U.S. and China, imposing new economic sanctions on North Korea as punishment for its announcement on February 12, confirming its third nuclear weapons test. While many nations detected seismic activity that they interpreted to be an underground nuclear explosion, and while the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty monitors said the tremor had "clear explosionlike characteristics," there was no detection of radiation sufficient to confirm that the explosion was nuclear.

North Korea's admission that it had used a "miniaturized nuclear device with greater explosive force than previously" was seen by some as defiance of Chinese advice against such a test. The Chinese had promised that North Korea would "pay a heavy price" if it went ahead with the test. That price apparently includes China's cooperation with the U.S. on setting sanctions.

Complicating the response to the test announcement, there are few sanctions left to apply to North Korea, perhaps the world's second most-sanctioned country after Israel [the U.N. has voted 66 sanctions against Israel, all or most of which Israel ignores with little consequence]. The new North Korea sanctions bar all nations from selling them expensive jewelry, yachts, luxury automobiles, and racing cars.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said that "taken together, these sanctions will bite, and bite hard."

That will depend on China, which has previously helped North Korea get around sanctions, seeming to have less concern for the country across the border having nuclear weapons than having it devolve into instability and chaos. So the current round of sanctions, like earlier ones, will have limited impact unless China should decide to limit its oil shipments, banking services, and other ongoing aid to North Korea.

Anyone Ready for an Act of War, Like a Naval Blockade?

Another factor limiting the effectiveness of sanctions has been the unwillingness of the U.S. and other nations to enforce sanctions with a naval blockade, which would be an act of war. And it would be an act of war against a Chinese ally, enforced in the waters off the Chinese mainland.

The announced nuclear test in February came a few weeks after the Security Council had voted unanimously for a resolution in favor of tightening sanctions on North Korea for launching a three-stage rocket in December.

At this point, no one is claiming that North Korea actually has any nuclear warheads, or any actual capacity to deliver one anywhere.

But North Korean [DPRK] bristling continued on April 4, as an unnamed army official suggested that:

... the moment of explosion is approaching fast. No one can say a war will break out in Korea or not and whether it will break out today or tomorrowÉ. The responsibility for this grave situation entirely rests with the U.S. administration and military warmongers keen to encroach upon the DPRK's sovereignty and bring down its dignified social system with brigandish logic.

Anonymous U.S. Official Wonders About U.S. Over-reacting

The same day, at the Pentagon, an unnamed Defense Department official took a look in the mirror and referred to U.S. bellicosity about its own military actions, saying:

We accused the North Koreans of amping things up, now we are worried we did the same thing. We are trying to turn the volume down. We are absolutely trying to ratchet back the rhetoric. We become part of the cycle. We allowed that to happen.

In South Korea, which would likely suffer most from an outbreak of hostilities, one observer there considered the North Korea news reporting "all hype." Adam Hogue graduated from Keene State College in New Hampshire in 2011 and has been living and working in South Korea ever since. On April 2, he wrote:

There is a need to create a culture of panic in the United States and, arguably, everywhere else where the major media conglomerates have established news outlets.

As I have heard from my mother, father, sister, friends, the New York Times, CNN and NPR, North Korea is suddenly big news. They are now something to fear. They are something threatening, mysterious and suddenly worthy of all the news headlines in the western-world. There is an urgent message being told that now is a time to panic and react.

But, that message is not coming from my co-workers at school or from the Korean news or from my neighbors; it is a message from the media.

American Paranoid Policy Heightened Since 9-11

So it seems, in answer to the paranoia question at the beginning of this piece: the U.S. appears to have a comfortable lead in maintaining delusions of being threatened.

While the threats to North Korea are real and existential, that doesn't preclude some paranoia at the same time: consider the suggestion that the 2010 torpedo-sinking of a South Korean ship - blamed on North Korea and raising war fears - was actually a false flag operation by the Israeli navy using a state-of-the-art German submarine [Israel has a small fleet, armed with nuclear-warhead missiles].

On January 29, 2002, in his first State of the Union address, President George Bush declared that North Korea was part of "an axis of evil" along with Iraq and Iran - nations that, while not an axis in the usual sense, got grouped by President Bush's belief that they were all developing weapons of mass destruction with which "to threaten the peace of the world."

Still searching for those weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. has now offered to sell South Korea 60 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter stealth bombers at a discount price of $180 million per plane. If the North Koreans are paying attention, they will not feel immediately threatened by this possible sale of a plane that is at least five years from being operational and still struggling in its test phase.

The F-35 may be more of an economic threat to South Korea.



William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.


Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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+1 # grouchy 2013-04-06 09:51
How 'bout both?
 
 
+9 # noitall 2013-04-06 12:00
Quoting grouchy:
How 'bout both?

"How 'bout both?" [they're both Korean] One could argue that it is America's historic culture of racism that has us fighting all these wars that builds enemies while filling the hidden vaults of the 1% with the "spoils of war" and lucrative supply contracts. All this without sufficient inconvenience (other than economic related declining life-style that few are able to connect the dots) or broadly experienced loss of American sons and daughters to spur debate. Media "coverage" following 9/11 is still paying huge dividends to the likes of Haliburton, GE, Military suppliers of all kinds. Draft? they don't need no stinkin' draft as long as military service is kept the only option for a huge portion of our population. We're under their thumb and all they can count on is this under-lying bigotry against brownie, engineered ignorance, and poverty. We reap what we sow.
 
 
+5 # Nominae 2013-04-06 20:50
Quoting noitall:
Quoting grouchy:
How 'bout both?

"How 'bout both?" [they're both Korean]

We're under their thumb and all they can count on is this under-lying bigotry against brownie, engineered ignorance, and poverty. We reap what we sow.


We do indeed reap what we sow, and it is also highly accurate to note that Paranoia Sells. It always has. At least since the time of the Punic Wars.

For more recent evidence, I would like to here include a quote from everyone's favorite Military Teddy Bear :

"Of course the people don't want war. But, after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy. Whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and for exposing the country to greater danger. "

~ Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg Trials

And, of course, Hermie didn't discover that fact of human psychology all by himself. This has been the automatic "control button" for the masses ever since there have *been* masses.

Echoes of the follow-up to 9/11 anyone ?

"And the beat goes on .........."
 
 
-4 # 666 2013-04-06 22:36
like Cato said "Korea must be destroyed"... - expensive jewelry, luxury cars, and yachts? maybe the UN should try sanctions with real bite, like "no exporting hookers to north korea allowed"
 
 
+36 # wantrealdemocracy 2013-04-06 09:52
Korea is a threat to no nation while the United States is a terrorist threat to all the people on earth. It is time for the American people to rise up for regime change in our country. Maybe the cutting of Social Security and the refusal of our corrupt government to even discuss Medicare for all will be the spark to set off a rebellion. We must end all these wars, put the banksters in jail and put our monetary system under the treasury dept and tax the rich to establish a new government that will honor our inalienable rights to life, liberty and to pursue happiness.
 
 
+4 # HowardMH 2013-04-06 10:45
Until there are two hundred thousand (OK I will concede there are not that many that even understand what is going on in Washington DC, much less get pissed off about it so lets say 5 thousand) really, really pissed off people on Capital Hill (all at the same time – with base ball bats, or 2 x 2s) raising some serious hell against the Lunatics, and idiots absolutely nothing is ever, ever going to happen to these totally bought and paid for by the richest 50 people in the world that are becoming more and more powerful with each passing rigged election thanks to the stupid people.

How much success have you had with the TOTALLY NON VIOLENT protests over the last few years?

I’m no fan of Sarah’s but this comment is just so appropriate. So how is that Hopei, Changie working out for you now?
 
 
+7 # noitall 2013-04-06 12:16
I think that those in charge will always have bigger "baseball bats, or 2x2s" and we ALL know their potential for terror and ruthlessness. Coupled with their control of the media and media's ability to spin Humpty back together again, we'd feel like we DID something but we'd be making big profit for the "friends" that got the private prison contracts. "Hopie, Changie", only works when the number of those with hope demanding change reaches a critical mass. I was at Jon Stewarts so-called Rally for Sanity. There were several hundred thousand people shoulder-to-sho ulder in the Mall and two blocks into the side streets. THAT was an opportunity. I understand why Stewart/Colbert didn't go "all in". They'd be out of business and media-spun into oblivion. PLUS, it isn't their gig, but entertainment drew out the crowd so that we could see what the "CRITICAL MASS" looks like. The challenge is to become of ONE MIND of understanding of our plight as Americans and that is difficult to do when our fourth estate has been bought as have our leaders. That in a nutshell, I believe is our condition. North Korea is a side show to make us think that NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO ROCK THE BOAT. Iran too. Now that we know this ploy will we fall for it again? You betcha! Here's a worthy FEAR for you: Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Google it!
 
 
0 # jwb110 2013-04-06 10:19
The most powerful weapon the US has is economic and I don't mean embargoes. Creating an economic vacuum in and around North Korea will male a starving population more hungry and that is the stuff of the overthrow of dictators. Pump enough money into South Korea that Unification is unnecessary. North Korea is a mouse that roared. It is still a mouse and no amount of nuclear sabre rattling will make that different. In the long ru n China will have to confront the fact the North Korea is no longer a buffer but a potential drag on China. That is the route we in the West should choose.
No shots will be fired. No foreign aid will go as tribute to an already puffed up dog. No paranoia in the news.
 
 
+6 # noitall 2013-04-06 12:20
Quoting jwb110:
The most powerful weapon the US has is economic and I don't mean embargoes. Creating an economic vacuum in and around North Korea will male a starving population more hungry and that is the stuff of the overthrow of dictators. Pump enough money into South Korea that Unification is unnecessary. North Korea is a mouse that roared. It is still a mouse and no amount of nuclear sabre rattling will make that different. In the long ru n China will have to confront the fact the North Korea is no longer a buffer but a potential drag on China. That is the route we in the West should choose.
No shots will be fired. No foreign aid will go as tribute to an already puffed up dog. No paranoia in the news.


How's it been working in Cuba for ya? "starve em". Americans are starving but does that get them in the streets while they're still strong enough to fight clubs and drones?
 
 
+6 # humanmancalvin 2013-04-06 10:20
It would be most unfortunate for a lot of people if N. Korea went off the deep end & fired some of their missiles. Probably most unfortunate for N. Korea though. Many innocent, poor N. Koreans would die by the instant retaliation of several nations led by the US. I do not believe there would be any such thing as a ground war, just aerial bombardment, missiles, drones, all the latest killing apparatus which the US has plenty of. It would be a very sad state of affairs.
 
 
+1 # Nominae 2013-04-06 21:15
Quoting humanmancalvin:
.... Many innocent, poor N. Koreans would die by the instant retaliation of several nations led by the US........ aerial bombardment, missiles, drones, all the latest killing apparatus which the US has plenty of. It would be a very sad state of affairs.


Though you did not mention the "big guns" in your analysis above (which is highly probable), I would just like to remind us all that a *nuclear strike* on N. Korea would be *VERY* tricky, just because the area is SO small, and because we have allies on both borders.

The strike would have to big enough to get N. Korea's attention, yet small enough to avoid setting up radiation fall-out and "Nuclear Winter" for S. Korea and the area of China bordering on N. Korea, and even for Japan, depending upon the prevailing winds the day of the drop.

As one who worked with, and flew nuclear weapons during Vietnam and the Cold War, solutions involving nuclear weapons are almost *NEVER* viable as "first response" solutions.

The exception here might be the recently developed "Bunker Buster" bombs if they can effectively penetrate N. Korea's underground nuclear development sites. Sub-surface blasts
leave less free-floating radiation.

However, a heavy nuclear response to this entire round of chest-beating would still amount to swatting a mosquito with a Howitzer.

Folks at home advocating a "nuke 'em" response simply have no way of comprehending the power of actual "nukes".
 
 
+1 # ABen 2013-04-07 21:03
N Korean officials know that the worst day of their lives (possibly the last) would begin about 10 minutes after they launch any sort of serious strike against any nation. This is just the chest pounding of a bully that wants people to pay attention.
 
 
+4 # Activista 2013-04-06 11:09
Excellent analysis - seems that small dog barks back on the big dog USA that is constantly threatening/mil itary maneuvers on its border and territorial waters.
And USA military oligarchy is getting richer and richer.
And USA (Obama) military expenses are growing and growing. Does useless Reagan Star War industry/our friend need more billions?
 
 
0 # JSRaleigh 2013-04-06 11:42
I would point out that CNN's March 29th report was of North Korea's ANNOUNCEMENT that they had "entered a 'state of war' with neighboring South Korea,".

Ninety-nine percent of this war scare is North Korea's belligerent rhetoric about a recurring joint US-South Korean defense exercise. Barring a clear overt act of aggression from North Korea - something as stupid as actually firing a missile at the U.S. or U.S. Territories - the war talk will eventually decrease once the joint defense exercise is over.
 
 
+5 # Hacienda View 2013-04-06 12:25
I think that the North Koreans are terrified of the U.S.A because they believe what their government and media tell them to be true.

I think that the Americans are terrified of the North Koreans because they believe what their government and media tell them to be true.

Oligarchs will make billions.

People may die.

Who's right anymore? where is the truth?
 
 
+4 # David Starr 2013-04-06 12:53
Both the DPRK and the ROK received foreign assistance during the Korean War. The DPRK: Chinese, Russian. The ROK: The United States, UN troop assistance.

But there's a crucial difference: As far as I know, Chinese and Russians did not establish a perpetual military presence in the DPRK. The U.S., in particular, did establish a perpetual military presence in the ROK.

If the ROK has a formidable military, why does the U.S. still occupy it? The DPRK has a formidable military, but no foreign occupation.

Sounds like the DPRK, despite a need for appropriate reform, can stand on its own. The ROK, however, cannot, being dependent on an imperial power (familiar story).

No doubt, 99.99% of Koreans want reunification. But how does it look with one side appearing independent while the other side still appears to be militarily occupied?

For reunification negotiations, the ROK isn't looking like a side qualified for sovereignty. This should be a Korean affair.
 
 
+5 # fredboy 2013-04-06 13:59
Precise parallels. Sort of reminds me of a nation that invaded another, unprovoked, in 2003...
 
 
+4 # PABLO DIABLO 2013-04-06 14:23
NOITALL nailed it. Wake up America. TPP is coming down the road.
 
 
-1 # Rick Levy 2013-04-06 19:39
Not only has North Korea renounced the 1953 armistice (see
http://www.newser.com/article/da4utf483/north-korea-cancels-armistice-as-south-korean-us-troops-launch-military-drills.html)

it has asked foreign diplomats to leave the country for their own safety which Boardman conveniently omits from his post. That warning is another American provocation I suppose.
 
 
+4 # Activista 2013-04-06 19:54
North Korea put its missile units on standby to attack U.S. military bases in South Korea and the Pacific, AFTER the United States flew two nuclear-capable stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula ..
who is starting what?
 
 
+1 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-04-06 23:02
Is it necessary to comment on the fatal irrationality of a culture that relies upon inculcating paranoia in its citizens?
 
 
+1 # Activista 2013-04-07 11:57
Like USA after 911 - aka War on terrorism and Homeland (Fatherland) security?
 
 
0 # diacad 2013-04-07 14:02
The US-ROK "joint maneuvers" preceded the DPRK "bluster". There have been no China-DPRK joint maneuvers since the 1953 cease fire. The US military is in over 100 countries on nearly 1000 bases. The US invaded repeatedly since WW2 in many wars, almost all unsuccessful. It has destroyed several countries - in Korea, over 2 million dead in the north, and few buildings standing. The US refuses a peace treaty requested by the DPRK for 50 years. The US applies crippling sanctions to the DPRK. The US has the power, they use it and promise more.

The DPRK has no military outside its own land. It has never invaded another country; the war (still existing without a peace treaty) between North and South is a civil war. The DPRK does not embargo (an act of war) - in cruel attempts to cripple other economies and impoverish citizens. Who does, and pressures others to do it?

The DPRK uses "peace through strength" logic as the US did during the Cold War. A strong army with some nuclear capability might deter attack. We do not criticize "friends" like Israel for this logic. Reasonable people agree it is dangerous. We should criticize it!

A threatened chihuahua barks loud. South Koreans on the street know it, no panic there. Are DPRK threats magnified as prelude to devastating preemptive attack? The US B2 Stealth Bombers designed for atomic weapons, and F22 Stealth Fighters, are poised for a knockout blow. Only China with its new might now stands in their way, as it did in 1950.
 
 
+1 # georgesands 2013-04-07 21:54
The US military will do anything to make sure they don't get hit with cuts and maintain control over themselves. They make us fear things that aren't there, and the media lies to get people to tune in. Look at Cuban missile crisis, cold war, and now this. The military is also trying to take the heat off the fact they are being investigated for rape in epic numbers. There is nothing about the US military people can trust http://www.theusmarinesrape.com/FaceBook.html
 

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