Written by Professor Joseph H. Chung; Originally appeared at Global Research
North Korea claims that it has shown, by concrete actions, its sincere desire to get rid of nuclear bombs and related facilities. But, the U.S. has done little in return; it is even adding sanctions against Pyongyang. Where does the Singapore Agreement go? It could go on a long bumpy road.
More than a month and half have passed since the historical Kim-Trump summit in Singapore. But in the eyes of many of the Washington elite group, the South Korean conservative politicians, the corporate media and some of the Korea experts of corporate funded think – tank establishments, the Singapore summit is a failure.
They claim that Trump has given too much to Kim Jong-un by treating him as equal and cancelling the U.S.-ROK joint military exercises. On the other hand, North Korea has dismantled the nuclear test facilities in Punggye-ri even before the Singapore summit; it has dismantled the ICBM assembly facilities near Pyongyang; there are also signs that missile launch site at Tongchong-ri are being removed.
Moreover, Kim Jong-un returned, on the 30th of July, to the U.S. fifty-five remains of UN soldiers – mainly US GIs- who died in North Korea during the Korean War.
Pyongyang thinks that it has done enough to deserve some concrete signs of Washington’s actions such as the declaration of the “End of the Korean War”. This is not a legal commitment. But, it is a precondition for a peace treaty.
Unfortunately, it appears that the possible participation of China at the declaration is an important factor of delaying Washington’s final decision. Both Koreas hope that it will happen, at latest, during the coming UN general assembly.
I believe that North Korea really wishes to get rid of its nuclear weapons, if conditions are met. What Kim Jong-un wants after the launching of Hwasung-15 late last year is to make his country to become a “normal country” and let his people enjoy prosperity and live in peace. In fact, he has officially abandoned the “Byung-jin” strategy, that is, he is no longer interested in pursuing nuclear program so that he can focus on the economic development.
By contrast, Trump’s behaviour and his rhetoric since his handshake with Kim in Singapore make us to wonder if he really intends to respect the agreement.
Nevertheless, let us assume that he is really sincere in implementing the content and the spirit of the Singapore agreement.
But, the real question is this: “Can he do it?” “Can he actually keep his promise to secure Kim’s regime, the security and the prosperity for the North Korean people, in exchange of CVID (Complete Verifiable Irreversible Denuclearization) carried out by Pyongyang?”
It seems that it is almost impossible for Trump to keep his promise, unless he is free from the “Washington Trap”.
By Washington Trap, I mean Washington’s anti-North Korea policy frame which is so deeply rooted in the minds of the majority of Americans that no US president can propose and apply policies favourable to Pyongyang. Trump is no exception; he is caught in the trap. Even he wants it, he may not be able to make significant concessions to Kim Jong-un without being free from the trap.
The purpose of the trap is to make North Korea the most undesirable entity in the word deserving to be destroyed. In fact, Trump along with John Bolton, National Security advisor, declared that North Korea deserves to be annihilated. To justify such drastic measure, Americans are made to dislike and mistrust North Korea. To achieve this, mainstream media and corporate funded research establishments are mobilized.
The trap is constructed in a very offensive logical sequence.
First, North Korea is presented as threatening the U.S., South Korea and Japan. In other words, North Korea is dangerous.
During the global cold war era, North Korea was a part of the communist block and, as such, it could be considered as threatening to South Korea. But after the collapse of the Soviet block, North Korea neither had the intention of threatening South Korea nor had the capacity to do so.
North Korea has never threatened the U.S., nor had it the capacity to do so. North Korea was saying all along that if, and only, if the U.S. attacks it first, it will respond with nuclear arms.
In other words, since the 1990s, North Korea has never been a threat either to South Korea or the U.S.
However, the South Korean conservative and American media have been highlighting the danger of North Korean threat so long and so hard that it is now accepted as a truth. It is especially so among conservatives in South Korea. The most conservative South Korean media which have faithfully devoted to the creation of such dreadful image of North Korea are the three largest daily papers: ChoselIlbo, Joong-Ang-Ilbo and Dong-Ah-Ilbo, called the Cho-Joong-Dong.
Second, North Korea is labelled as delinquent state. North Korea has been made a “evil monster”. North Korea is given an overall label of “tyranny”, “rogue state”, “part of axis of evil”, and “corrupted”. These labels have been so often repeated in the media that Americans believe what they have read and heard.
It is true that these terrible images of North Korea and its people have been somewhat changed in positive way owing to the North-South Summit of April 27 and the Trump-Kim summit of June 12, but it is not easy to erase the image which has been deeply planted in the minds of many.
The third weapon in the tool bag of anti-North Korea propaganda is non-trustworthiness of Pyongyang.
There are politicians, government officials, media people and think -tank experts who have been saying that North Korea cannot be trusted.
At the end of 2017, that is, more than twenty years after the signing of Framework Agreement of 1994, the CNN stated:
“The Clinton administration signed the Framework Agreement. But North Korea has violated the Agreement even before the ink dried“.(Juliette Morillot) and Dorian Malovic. Le monde selon Kim Jong-un: Guerre ou Paix-The Kim Jong-un’s World: War or Peace. Éditions, Robert Laffond, 2018).
Anthony Ruggiero, a proliferation expert who participated in the negotiations of 1994 observed:
“Pyongyang has violated the Agreement of 1994. One cannot trust North Korea. No dialogue can resolve the problem. One must intensify the sanction against North Korea.”
Former CIA agent Bruce Klinger and Christopher Hill, former ambassador to South Korea who participated in the negotiation in 2007 and 2008 said that North Korea was a rogue country
President George W. Bush qualified North Korea as a part of the “axis of evil”.
The suspicion about the honesty of North Korea went even further. The U.S. accused Pyongyang for having violated the 1994 agreement for the activities which had nothing to do with the agreement.
For instance, in 1988, North Korea launched a satellite flying over Japan. This was interpreted as if it were violation of the agreement. The fact was that it had nothing to do with the agreement.
But, there are many witnesses who say otherwise. The IAEA confirmed in 1994 that North Korea stopped the production of plutonium. In 1988, the State Department of the George W. Bush government confirmed that there was no violation of the agreement. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State of the Bush government said that the 1994 agreement was solid..
In fact, in accordance with the Framework Agreement, Pyongyang stopped all the activities of the Yongbyon reactors as well as the construction of two reactors capable of producing many nuclear bombs.
Despite North Korea’s honest efforts to respect the agreement, the U.S. did not take any actions to implement the agreement. North Korea complained about the delay of the U.S. and its allies in taking any concrete actions.
In fact, they failed to provide the funds to KEDO (Korea Energy Development Organization), a consortium of the U.S., South Korea and Japan. These funds were needed for the construction of the two Light-Water reactors promised in the agreement. The U.S. failed to provide the 500,000 tons of fuels promised in the agreement..
Who has violated the 1994 Agreement? It was not North Korea; it was the U.S. and its allies. Having realized that the agreement was of no use, North Korea begun to seek for military options
The behaviour of the U.S. after the 1994 agreement makes us to ask this question: What was the true intention of its North Korea policy? The denuclearization does not seem to be Washington’s true intention, because, if the agreement was implemented, North Korea would not have been possible to produce the nuclear bombs. In 1994, North Korea had no finished nuclear bombs.
Washington’s true objective of its North Korea policy could be something other than the denuclearization; it could be the regime change even through the use of military force.
In fact, it is reported that President Bill Clinton, in the 1990s, tried to use force to destroy North Korea, but owing to the intervention of President Jimmy Carter, the war was avoided.
Trump himself has mentioned often of military actions and, in fact, if the conservative government of Park Geun-hye were still in the Blue House (Korean White House) in 2017, the military attack against North Korea could have happened.
It is obvious that if the war breaks out against North Korea, hundreds of thousand Koreans and perhaps one hundred thousand Americans in South Korea and Japan could be killed. It could be the beginning of the third world war. But, some of American leaders did not seem to be much concerned.
For instance, Senator of South Carolina, Lindsey Graham would have said that the war “will be terrible. But the war will take place in Korea. It will be bad for Japan, South Korea and even worse for North Korea. But the war will not touch America.” (Morillot-Malovic. Le monde selon Kim Jong-un: Guerre ou Paix, 2018)
I just cannot believe that such view can be made by a US senator.
It appears that, for the time being, Trump does not planning a war against North Korea. But, he has repeated saying that, unless North Korea carries out the CVID, the US would keep all options including the military one.
The sanctions have become, over the years, more and more wide -ranged, more intensified and more efficient. They could have caused the collapse of the Juche regime, if North Korean people had not developed underground networks of trade and financial transaction. The courage, the patience, the imagination and the creativity of North Korean people were surely one of the factors of their survival under these terrible sanctions.
The joint U.S.-ROK joint military exercises have begun right after the Korean War. Over the years, they have become larger in size and more threatening in effects. This trend has been much more visible since 2008 when two of the most ardent anti-North Korea politicians, Shinzo Abe in Japan and Lee Myong-buk in South Korea took power.
These two politicians are the most conservative politicians in the region. And they have more than fully exploited the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula for their political and other personal interests.
What emerges from the above observations is clear; Washington’s North Korea policy is an integral part of the American imperialistic world domination. On this point, Stephen Lendman made an interesting analysis.
“Washington wants pro-western puppet regimes replacing all sovereign independent government. North Korea is very much included. Peace and stability on the Korean peninsula depends on its subservience to Washington interests”. (Trump Regime Remains Adversarial toward North Korea, Global Research, July 9, 2018)
To sum up, the American North Korea policy has had a logical frame in which North Korea is a threat to the U.S and South Korea; it is a rogue state; it cannot be trusted; a dialogue is not the best way to treat it. The only way to treat it is to change the regime either through a war or internal upheaval. Since the war is too expensive, the internal upheaval is the solution.
The Washington Trap is built by the military/security oligarchy in Washington in complicity with the conservatives in South Korea and Japan. It is marketed by media and conservative intellectuals. This trap is so well built and well presented that the American general public seems to accept it without knowing what is at stake. The American general public is simply cheated by the Washington elite and corporate media.
Stephen Lendman (The Russian US Election Meddling is Lie, Global Research July 10, 2018) made an interesting observation.
“Americans are easy to be fooled. No matter how many times they were deceived before, they are easily manipulated to believe most anything drummed into their mind by the power of repetitive propaganda- fed them through the major media megaphone- in lock step with official falsified narration.”
More than five weeks have passed since the Singapore Summit and Trump is facing a difficult challenge. He says that he is eager to speed up the CVID which are his concrete actions to show his good intention of fulfilling the Singapore agreement. But he has done little, so far.
By contrast, Pyongyang has done several things to show its sincere desire to keep the promise. As we saw above, its latest gesture was the transferring the remains of soldiers fallen in North Korea during the Korean War.
We are asking why Trump is not giving something in return. He is in dilemma; he is caught in the Washington Trap. If he gives too much in the eyes of Americans, he may have to find himself in a situation where the anti-Trump wind can blow even harder.
If he does not give something corresponding to North Korea’s expectation, the process of CVID will be delayed or even stopped.
What can Trump do about it? What are the options available for him?
There seem to be only one option. It is to be free from the Washington Trap by destroying all, or at least, some of the fabricated negative images of North Korea. This requires such measure as cultural, and sports exchanges; exchanges of academics and research establishment could be useful.
If this is done, then, Trump could provide what Kim Jong-un wants in function of the progress of the denuclearization of North Korea.
If Trump fails to free himself from the trap, whatever he does to solve the North Korean problem, he will have to face the roadblock set by the conservative military/security group, mainstream media and, especially the general public.
Thus Trump has a very narrow margin of actions in making concessions to Kim Jong-un. In this situation, the CVID will not be done or at best partially done. In such case, he will have to fact the political guillotine.
However, there could be one way out. It is the matter of convincing the hardliner and the general public in the U.S. that, even if North Korea is a rogue nation and has all the negative traits, it can be made pro-U.S. and an interesting tool for China containment policy.
To do this, Trump has to tell those who are in the trap that North Korea is a docile vassal of Washington.
North Korea will never accept this
Nevertheless, he must do something in response to Pyongyang’s gesture of denuclearization. Given the domestic situation, Trump may try to gain time; he asks Pyongyang to produce the list of all nuclear products.
Pyongyang may produce a list of nuclear arsenal and nuclear facilities, The trouble is this; it is more than probable that Washington would not accept it; it would say that there should be more hidden nuclear bombs and facilities. This is the inevitable outcome of fabricated mistrust of American about North Korea.
The Korea Times (August 3) quotes a Washington Post article which said:” North Korean officials have talked about how they plan to deceive the U.S. about the size of their arsenal of nuclear warheads and facilities.”
It is hard to believe that North Korea officials could be so stupid to publicize such plan; this episode shows how deep the mistrust about North Korea is rooted in the U.S.
The whole process of denuclearization could stop because of mistrust; the tension on the Korean peninsula will persist; this will make the military/security oligarchy in Washington and the South Korean conservatives happy.
Trump will say that he has done his best; it is the fault of Pyongyang if the Singapore summit fails.
But, the world would not buy this; the U.S. will be more isolated and lose the authority of being the global super power.
The Pax Americana will lose its true meaning.
Professor Joseph H. Chung is currently associated professor of economics and co-director of the Observatory of East Asia (OAE) of the Study Center for Integration and Globalization (CEIM), Quebec University – Montreal Campus. He is a Research Associate of the Center for Research on Globalization.