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U.S. doesn't do peace

Stephen Gowans

damn North Koreans. They're at it again, rigidly making demands for, ugh!, peace.

"North Korea revived its long standing demand for a non-aggression treaty and diplomatic relations with Washington," revealed The New York Times the other day.

Habitually termed bizarre, unpredictable, and isolationist, North Korea is often portrayed as a menacing threat, its leaders consumed by a death wish to send a warhead hurtling toward Hawaii. But a country that has a long-standing demand for a non-aggression treaty and diplomatic relations can hardly be considered a threat to the safety of Americans. A threat to the idea that free trade and free markets dominated by US capital must spread to all corners of the globe, North Korea included -- or that Washington is global boss -- is quite another matter.

It seems Kim Jong Il, the country's leader, just doesn't get it. His demand for peace, the US newspaper of record was compelled to add, shows a "rigidity analysts said represented [Pyongyang's] customary leverage from a weak position."

Translation: The United States doesn't negotiate. It issues demands, and they're to be acceded to, post haste. Didn't Kim get the memo?

The US demand, in case you missed it, is for North Korea to surrender its quaint and outmoded ideas about (a) sovereignty, (b) socialism, and (c) the right to self-defense.

The US demand in the case of Slobodan Milosevic, the demonized former leader of a fractured Yugoslavia, was to surrender his quaint and outmoded ideas about (a) sovereignty, (b) socialism, and (c) the right to self-defense.

He didn't. So he now languishes in a former Nazi prison at The Hague, a warning to slow-learners, like Kim.

And Saddam.

Saddam didn't learn, either. Clinging to his quaint and outmoded ideas about (a) sovereignty, (b) Arab nationalism, and (c) the right to self-defense, he's paid the price. He's on the run, with a bounty on his head.

Seems to be a pattern.

To get with the program, Kim Jong Il must step down; the country's resources, markets, land and labor must be turned over to US businesses and investors; and Pyongyang must abandon any idea of developing nuclear weapons to deter Washington's efforts to secure its first two demands.

That's why a non-aggression pact, which would ease tensions, is not in the cards. "We won't do non-aggression pacts or treaties, things of that nature," declared US Secretary of State Colin Powell, rigidly.

Reporters never ask, Why not? And they never ask questions like: "Didn't Powell just say, 'We don't do peace'?"

Washington is willing to give Pyongyang a written assurance, but it's not clear what it's ready to give an assurance of. Not that bombs, stamped Made in the USA, won't level every building over one story, as they did 50 years ago, during the Korean War.

Incidentally, that war has never been officially declared over, something Washington has insisted on, rigidly.

"The administration," The New York Times revealed "has already ruled out any language that would assure the North that there would never be a pre-emptive attack."

That's about the 51st threat in a long string North Koreans are shitting their drawers over, waiting for the first missile to be let loose from a US ship lurking somewhere off the coast.

There are 37,000 US troops on, or near, the North Korean border. Many more are stationed in nearby Japan. Bombers have been moved to within striking distance, and the 7th Fleet, chock-a-block with nukes, waits menacingly in the Sea of Japan.

If that isn't provocation enough, there have been plenty of others: Being called a part of an axis of evil; being warned to draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq; turning up on a list of countries whose regimes are scheduled for change; being included in a list of countries the US has targeted for a possible nuclear strike; the leaking of US battle plans to US News and World Report.

And the latest: US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is said to be eager to see talks with the embattled country fail because that would "make it easier to rally support from other countries for more economic and political pressure and, eventually, military confrontation."

The weak will be picked off, one by one, militarily.

You don't hear much about Libya these days. That's because the US, and its faithful junior, the UK, have other fish to fry. But sit tight. Libya's day is coming.

Khadaffi, you see, has the same problem Kim has, and Milosevic and Saddam had. They either didn't get the memo, or they didn't read it.

Libya still clings to ideas that make the trustees of US imperialism - that is, Washington's movers and shakers -- see red: Sovereignty; nationalism; the right to self-defense.

Just the other day, the oil rich country bowed to UN demands on the Lockerbie affair, taking the final step to fulfill conditions the world body established for the lifting of sanctions.

But what Libya didn't do was renounce its right to develop weapons to defend itself from attack by countries that might have a track record in outraging the sovereignty of the unwilling in pursuit of, say, oil and commercial advantage.

So it is that Washington has declared, rigidly, that sanctions and penalties stretching back 24 years will be maintained, until Libya takes "many more steps, particularly in the area of weapons programs." Washington likes its victims to disarm before the Pentagon sets jackboots to marching. It's so much easier, that way.

In case you thought these foreign adventures don't have a lot to do with US commercial advantage, you might want to pore over another in a series of fascinating tidbits that always seem to be springing from The New York Times.

"The Bush administration has been reluctant to give the United Nations more than minimal authority in the reconstruction of Iraq."


Because the administration believes "France, Germany, Russia and other countries demanding such a role are actually doing so to try to get more contracts and economic benefits for themselves."

Translation: "Piss off you vultures. We invaded the country. We get the contracts and economic benefits. Go find your own country to invade."

Middle-weight imperialists should keep in mind, however, that Washington, the super heavyweight, already has dibs on Cuba, Syria, Iran, and, oh yes, a North Korea that keeps rigidly insisting on peace.

Steve Gowans calls himself a radical, but others just call him contrary and a pain-in-the-ass. He can be reached at

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