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article imageOp-Ed: Tension increases between irrational U.S. and N. Korean leaders

By Ken Hanly     Apr 12, 2017 in World
North Korea and the U.S. trade threats and provocations as tension between the leaders of the two countries increases creating the danger of disastrous clashes.
In the west, the press emphasis is on North Korean actions such as nuclear and missile tests. The North Koreans take these actions as defensive responses to U.S. and South Korean actions. The U.S. and others consider them as provocations. Such actions as a U.S. aircraft carrier steaming toward North Korea and joint war games with the South Koreans that involve a simulated attack on North Korea, nor the installation of the THAAD anit-missile system are not regarded as provocations but legitimate responses to the threat of North Korea in the western press.
North Korean rhetoric does not help the situation, as Kim Jong-un threatens nuclear attacks in response to any military action against it. However, many people are concerned that after the US strike in Syria, the U.S. may take unilateral military action against North Korea. Russian officials have voiced their concern. However, Defense Secretary James Mattis tried to downplay these concerns and insists that the carrier strike group is just in the western Pacific and is not going to South Korea for any particular reason and is not intending to do anything when it arrives. However, it is clearly a show of force. The Mattis explanation contradicts what President Trump told Fox Business news that the armada was full of powerful warships, that North Korea was looking for trouble, and the U.S. intended to solve the problem. The tabloid press jumped into the competing narratives and reports that the Navy Seals who killed Bin Laden are now training to take out Kim Jong-Un!
China appears to have agreed with Donald Trump that North Korea is a threat but wants to deal with the situation through non-military means. China has already acted to ban coal shipments from North Korea: A fleet of North Korean cargo ships is heading home to the port of Nampo, the majority of it fully laden, after China ordered its trading companies to return coal from the isolated country, shipping data shows, China banned all imports of North Korean coal on Feb. 26, cutting off the country's most important export product. China's customs department issued an official order on April 7 telling trading companies to return their North Korean coal cargoes, said three trading sources with direct knowledge of the order. There are also reports that China is preparing for trouble on its 1420 kilometer border with North Korea.
China is said to be deploying about 150,000 Chinese troops to the area according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency. However, China's Xinhua news agency has not reported this deployment. Russia also has a short border area with North Korea in the far north-west of the country. There is no land crossing except for a railway. There is actually a railway car that goes from Pyongyang the North Korean capital to Moscow a distance of 10,272 kilometers or 6,383 miles, the longest direct, one-seat ride, passenger rail service in the world.
Trump and others claim that everything has been tried to get North Korea to stop its nuclear program but nothing has worked. Nothing has worked permanently but as Noam Chomsky points out: 1994, Clinton made—established what was called the Framework Agreement with North Korea. North Korea would terminate its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. The U.S. would reduce hostile acts. It more or less worked, and neither side lived up to it totally, but, by 2000, North Korea had not proceeded with its nuclear weapons programs. George W. Bush came in and immediately launched an assault on North Korea—you know, "axis of evil," sanctions and so on. North Korea turned to producing nuclear weapons. Bush tore up another sensible proposal in 2005. What we have now is threats not suggestions for diplomatic solutions, as in the recent flurry of tweets by Donald Trump threatening North Korea.
We are faced with two leaders often characterized as mad with huge egos confronting one another. It is not a situation conducive to global security. Sorry, I forgo Trump is now "presidential", after attacking a Syrian air base with Tomahawk missiles, according to CNN's Farad Zakaria and many others. An attack on North Korea against a mad leader will no doubt be even more presidential.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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