I must confess some measure of schadenfreude at the sight of beady-eyed US Vice-president Mike Pence squirming through his ‘protocol headache‘ at the opening ceremony of the winter Olympics in South Korea last week. There he was, the distinguished emissary of South Korea’s ‘protector’, a representative of the Exceptional Nation, eclipsed by the surprise inclusion of a representative of ‘the enemy’. And at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, no less! Who politicizes sporting and cultural events like that? It’s outrageous!
The irony, no doubt, was completely lost on the Americans. After provoking Russia into responding to a military attack launched by that nutcase Saakashvili during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, then trying their level best to scare people away from participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, then pressuring international sporting bodies to ban Russian athletes from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, then doing likewise to cast Russians as untermensch at the current winter games, there’s some poetic justice in seeing the US deep state’s manipulation of the cultural sphere bite it in the rear.
Pro-Trump pundits lambasted the US ‘liberal media’ for its allegedly fawning coverage of ‘the Communist dictator’s photogenic sister’. While the coverage was somewhat reasonable towards the North Korean regime – after all, how could media, globally, fail to notice this turn of events after the past year’s bellicose rhetoric? – it was far from ‘doing Kim’s propaganda for him’, and it’s doubtful that US coverage was motivated by ‘making the Trump administration look bad’.
For example, that preeminent ultra-liberal outlet, The Guardian, disparaged the peaceful overture with this headline: ‘‘Humble’ Kim Yo-jong has charmed the media, but the glow is unlikely to last‘. The notion that coverage of the event was ‘partisan’ is also betrayed by this statement in a January New York Times op-ed from Obama’s State Department Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, David R. Russell:
“It is fine for the South Koreans to take the lead, but if they don’t have the US behind them, they won’t get far with North Korea. And if the South Koreans are viewed as running off the leash, it will exacerbate tensions within the alliance.”
The obnoxious ‘leash’ Russell refers to is the one Korean-American historian Leo Chang Soon says, “South Korea has been under since Syngman Rhee flew into Korea on General Douglas MacArthur’s plane to become the first president of South Korea on September 2, 1945.”
So Trump, Pence, and the whole US government indeed appear foolish given that any protests they may raise against the two Koreas symbolically uniting under one Olympic flag amounts to the suggestion that North Korea had conspired to do so in order to ‘drive a wedge between South Korea and the US’.
Things went from bad to worst-possible-scenario for the US when South Korean president Moon Jae-In subsequently hosted Kim Yo-jong at the presidential ‘Blue House’ in Seoul, the first such visit by a member of the Kim dynasty since the Korean War ended, and during which she handed him a formal invitation to meet with her brother in Pyongyang ‘ASAP’.
What some seem to have forgotten (more likely, never even considered) is that the only reason Trump has spent the past year in a dangerous war of words with Kim is because that is what the Deep State needed to happen. The shock that produced a president Trump – the Clintons’ fall in early November 2016 – came at exactly the same time that an apparently separate shock brought down South Korean president Park Geun-hye: the eruption of mass demonstrations in late October 2016 following the exposure that she had effectively handed the reins of power to a Rasputin-like psychic running an extortion racket with government funds.
In the fallout that followed (think Hillary’s Emails + Benghazi-gate + Uranium One… except that people actually went to jail), South Korean aides and ministers were arrested from November 2016 all the way through late March 2017, when Park herself was indicted. So the US Deep State was on notice that voters were about to swing ‘left’, which in the South Korean context meant electing a party that would be markedly less antagonistic towards its northern neighbor, which always increases the risk of peace breaking out on the Korean peninsula, and thus increases the risk of rendering the US’ massive military presence redundant.
With South Korean elections coming up in May 2017, and likely to bring in – for the first time in over a decade – a pro-unification government in favor of engaging with the North Koreans rather than threatening to bomb them back to the stone age (again), US War Chief James Mattis set off on a ‘reassurance’ tour of East Asian vassals and tributaries. Landing in South Korea on February 2nd 2017, Mattis pushed for the installation of THAAD missile systems before the new future government could, inevitably, object to new ‘facts on the ground’. Rex Tillerson followed suit with a civilian version of the tour, landing first in Japan on March 15th.
From February 11th, 2017 onward, North Korea began the first of 16 missile test launches that year – the most it has ever conducted in one year. This was almost certainly done with one eye on the political upheaval in both South Korea and Washington, and the US Deep State’s efforts to contain the fallout of both.
Trump then declared on April 2nd 2017 that the US “would be willing to go it alone to restrain North Korea’s nuclear weapons program should China fail to change the situation,” which began the tit-for-tat insults between him and Kim, and the UN resolutions (further) sanctioning North Korea, thus generating the overall atmosphere of imminent Armageddon. If the ostensible strategic purpose of publicly bellowing ‘fire and fury’ at North Korea was meant to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons capable of reaching the US, then it apparently failed.
Then again, sabre-rattling over North Korea has always been a means to the end of surrounding China with US missile batteries, hence the need for an enduring ‘crisis’ over North Korea and serious US aversion to any moves towards a peaceful and unified Korea.
Remember that Trump started down this route just two days before reversing position on Syria and announcing that it had ‘crossed the chemical weapons red line’, which cemented the US strategy of doubling down on ‘Plan B’ by carving a piece out of Syria. The coincidental timing only underscores the political compromise Trump had to make; ‘yield on foreign policy if you want to live, much less see through the end of your term and implement any of your election promises’.
At the time I wondered if Kim was indeed crazy – not because he might actually start nuking people, but because from a PR point of view he appeared to be hurting his chances of success with the incoming pro-peace government in Seoul. But actually, he was applying the rule that all countries must eventually grasp; that in this world any sovereign nation-state seeking to protect or advance its interests must acquire the credible threat of violence to make diplomacy successful. When everyone learns to ‘speak softly, but carry a big stick’, then, maybe, we can have something approximating world peace.
North Korea would of course lose in any serious conflict with the US, but not before thousands of US soldiers and possibly millions of US citizens, died too. It’s doubtful whether any US politician, nor even its Deep Staters, would be willing to risk taking that kind of a hit to America’s status as the Exceptional Nation, particularly given the US’ chronically polarized political climate.
South Korea doesn’t have that ‘luxury’: conflict on the peninsula is for her an existential matter. It’s only by demonstrating just how much firepower North Korea has, and how far it is willing to go in using it, that South Korea is taking its northern neighbor seriously. Hence the friendly smiles in PyeongChang.
South Korean President Moon better watch out though – while it may be difficult for the CIA to get to Kim in the North, it would be a cakewalk for them to get to him.
Niall Bradley has a background in political science and media consulting, and has been an editor and contributing writer at SOTT.net for 8 years. His articles are cross-posted on his personal blog, NiallBradley.net. Niall is co-host of the ‘Behind the Headlines’ radio show on the Sott Radio Network and co-authored Manufactured Terror: The Boston Marathon Bombings, Sandy Hook, Aurora Shooting and Other False-Flag Terror Attacks with Joe Quinn.