by Mike Whitney
Obama has 24 hours to stop a war from breaking out on the Korean peninsula
Realizing that its plan to intimidate North Korea has backfired and brought the peninsula to the brink of war, the Obama administration is now looking for ways to ease tensions. But South Korea's tough-talking President Lee Myung-bak has not been deterred and plans to go ahead with the controversial artillery tests on Yeonpyeong Island on Monday or Tuesday. The North has warned that if the drills proceed, then they will retaliate with a second and third "self-defense counterattack....that would be deadlier than the strike on Nov. 23."
The State Department has defended Seoul's plan to conduct the artillery operations saying, "A country has every right to train and exercise its military in its own self defense", but the administration is worried that a flare up of hostilities will quickly escalate into a full-blown conflagration. So, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has been dispatched to Pyongyang along with Wolf Blitzer and a team from CNN to (presumably) offer Kim Jong il inducements to back down. So far, there is no indication that Richardson is making progress in his mission, which the State Dept (absurdly) describes as a "personal trip". Needless to say, the New Mexico governor has not gone to North Korea to work on his tan. He's there because Washington has no other way to throw water on the blaze that it created with its provocative joint military operations.
Blitzer's role in the fracas is to invent a narrative that will divert public attention from the crisis that Obama's lieutenants created. It's CNN's job to show that the North is "giving in" when in fact it is the Obama team that is back-peddling as fast as possible, even to the point of breaking it's word on bilateral negotiations. Richardson's appearance in Pyongyang is proof that bilateral negotiations are taking place right now. This is from the Korea Times:
"Bill Richardson, the New Mexico governor who is currently visiting North Korea, reportedly made some proposals to North Korea, amid high tensions on the Korean Peninsula as South Korea plans a live-fire drill.
According to CNN, Richardson met with North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator Kim Kye-gwan for one and a half hours and said he would expect the current tension would lessen if his proposals are accepted by North Korea, Yonhap said.
Richardson didn’t disclose what the “proposals” were..." (Korea Times)
"Proposals"? What sort of proposals is Richardson offering on his "personal trip"? The State Dept. is lying about Richardson's role which is clearly official. Richardson is trusted by Pyongyang because he worked on Clinton-era negotiations for the "Agreed Framework", the seminal US/North Korea bargain which the US stubbornly refuses to honor. This is the crux of the matter---the US will not fulfill its obligations under the terms of the deal. As for Blitzer: Here's an excerpt from a CNN article on Sunday which demonstrates Wolf's prodigious abilities as state propagandist:
"Pyongyang, North Korea (CNN) -- A top North Korean general offered Sunday to help return the remains of several hundred U.S. troops killed during the Korean War, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said.
Maj. Gen. Pak Rim Su told Richardson that the bodies were discovered recently in North Korea.
Richardson, who is meeting with officials in North Korea to help ease tensions in the region, described the offer as a "very positive gesture." (CNN)
The North hasn't softened its position at all. This story is pure diversionary fluff. CNN is merely trying to spin the story to save face for Obama.
Meanwhile, the North has deployed additional troops to the west coast in preparation for the drills which will take place on Monday or Tuesday. The military is on high alert.
This is from another CNN report:
"A North Korean spokesman over the weekend said that the planned military exercises were a "sinister design" to violate the Korea Armistice Agreement and "ignite war at any cost."
"The shelling to be perpetrated by the puppet forces of south Korea at last, trespassing on the prohibiting line would make it impossible to prevent the situation on the Korean Peninsula from exploding and escape its ensuing disaster"....
North Korea blamed the United States for allegedly egging on the South Koreans. (CNN)
The US has repeatedly bullied the North with sanctions, added them to the State Dept's list of terrorists, forced them from the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), disparaged them to the world as a member of the "axis of evil", and threatened them with regime change. But now that North and South are sliding inexorably towards war, Washington has done a quick about-face and is looking to the United Nations Security Council to bail them out. Surely, Kim must know that the UN is just another stick that Uncle Sam uses to beat his enemies.
As of this writing (Sunday morning) South Korea's military has confirmed that it will "go ahead with its planned live-fire drill off a Yellow Sea border island, despite strong reactions from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)"
This is from the Korea Joongang Daily:
“If North Korea attacks the South over our exercise in our territorial waters, we will counter it not based on the rules of engagement but in terms of exercising our right to self defense,” said a (South Korean) military official....
In the event of an attack, the Army will fire its K9 howitzers and multiple rocket launchers. A single shot of the Multiple Launch Rocket System is capable of destroying an area twice the size of a football field, the military said.
“No matter what happens, we will go ahead with the firing exercise,” said a top official at the Ministry of National Defense." (Korea Joongang Daily)
The situation is grave. Barack Obama has 24 hours to stop a war from breaking out on the Korean peninsula.
Mike Whitney is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Mike Whitney