For the night of 13 October 2013
North Korea: On 12 October, The Korean Central News Agency published an article that threatens to return security conditions to those at the end of North Korea's winter training cycle in March. In commenting on a two-day exercise by forces from the US, Republic of Korea and Japan, a spokesman for the North's National Defense Commission said,
"Reckless provocative acts would meet our retaliatory strikes and lead to an all-out war of justice for a final showdown with the United States."
"The United States must bear it in mind that reckless provocative acts would meet our retaliatory strikes and lead to an all-out war of justice for a final showdown with the United States."
"We emphasize again that the United States must withdraw various measures aimed to isolate and strangulate us. Dependent upon this are peace and security, not only on the Korean peninsula but the U.S. mainland as well."
The National Defense Commission published a clarification of what it described as its principled statement. The clarification did not threaten all out war, but rejected the US Secretary of State's offer of a non-aggression pact. The clarification contains three major points.
"1. If the U.S. truly wants to improve the relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) , it has to properly understand the DPRK and behave as befitting a big power."
"2. The U.S. should discard the old way of thinking and outdated stand and abandon the threadbare hostile policy toward the DPRK, before it is too late."
"3. The U.S. should clearly understand the meaning of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and lift all steps for isolating and stifling the DPRK."
The statement concluded as follows:
"What we would like to emphasize is that the U.S. should take a bold decision to halt at once all the provocations against the DPRK including war exercises which aim at bringing down its social system and territorial invasion."
"Explicitly speaking, the U.S. should make a policy switchover by withdrawing all the measures it has taken to isolate and stifle the DPRK as part of its greedy pivot to Asia-Pacific strategy."
"Herein lies the way for improving the DPRK-U.S. relations and guaranteeing peace and security not only on the Korean Peninsula but in the U.S. mainland."
Comment: The US Secretary of State promised a non-aggression pact in exchange for North Korean action that shows it has made a start to "denuclearize," whatever that means. What is clear is that the US Secretary of State diluted all past US position on North Korean denuclearization and that North rejected it.
The formulation that Secretary Kerry offered the North - and which it rejected - is a significant dilution of prior US positions which required the North to make good on past promises. Confronted with a US concession, the North automatically demanded more. That is always how the North behaves. Kerry should know better.
At some point, leaders need to understand the concept of weakness as US enemies interpret it. Concessions always signify weakness and always lead to escalatory demands by the enemy. The idea of compromise is a western civilized notion of statecraft. It is not a universal principle.
As for the North's "principled statement", what the North finds most offensive is not the threat of a US nuclear attack, but the threat of overthrowing the regime, arranged by the Allies. Thus, the best tactics for obtaining concessions from North Korea involve continued hints that the Allied aim is the overthrow of the Kim family and Allied advocacy of the unification of all Koreans through liberation by the democratic forces of the Republic of Korea.
North Korean leaders are much more afraid the regime will collapse than they are of a US nuclear attack.
China-US: The official Chinese news agency Xinhua published today a signed commentary about the failure of "Pax Americana." Excerpts follow.
"As U.S. politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world."
"With its seemingly unrivaled economic and military might, the United States has declared that it has vital national interests to protect in nearly every corner of the globe, and been habituated to meddling in the business of other countries and regions far away from its shores"
"Meanwhile, the U.S. government has gone to all lengths to appear before the world as the one that claims the moral high ground, yet covertly doing things that are as audacious as torturing prisoners of war, slaying civilians in drone attacks, and spying on world leaders".
"Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated, and a new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing.
For starters, all nations need to hew to the basic principles of the international law, including respect for sovereignty, and keeping hands off domestic affairs of others."
"Furthermore, the authority of the United Nations in handling global hotspot issues has to be recognized. That means no one has the right to wage any form of military action against others without a UN mandate."
"Apart from that, the world's financial system also has to embrace some substantial reforms."
"What may also be included as a key part of an effective reform is the introduction of a new international reserve currency that is to be created to replace the dominant U.S. dollar, so that the international community could permanently stay away from the spillover of the intensifying domestic political turmoil in the United States."
"Of course, the purpose of promoting these changes is not to completely toss the United States aside, which is also impossible. Rather, it is to encourage Washington to play a much more constructive role in addressing global affairs."
"And among all options, it is suggested that the beltway politicians first begin with ending the pernicious impasse."
Comment: A signed commentary published by Xinhua always means that some powerful political faction in Beijing holds the opinions expressed. Alternatively, it can mean that the entire Chinese leadership holds the opinions expressed and is seeking to determine their resonance around the world. This commentary appears to be in the latter case. The article has gone viral.
While the Chinese leadership has often criticized the wisdom and self-interests of US policy, it has hesitated to call for a reconstruction of the global system of nations. But that is what this commentary implies. It includes a point-by-point refutation of the pillars of US policy in the past five years.
It accuses the US of using the sobriquet of "responsibility to protect" to advance US aspirations for imperialism. The author accuses the US of using the claim of moral high ground to justify illegal detentions, summary executions by drones and torture of prisoners. The author says the so-called "pax Americana" has been the subterfuge to foment instability, American meddling, the start of wars and world-wide chaos justified by lies.
No student of Chinese leadership can doubt that the views expressed in the commentary represent the views of the leadership. Particularly galling is the uncertainty of a return on investment from the more than $3 trillion in US bonds that the Chinese hold. Capitalist systems are not supposed to aggravate uncertainty that leads to loss of value even if default is averted. The Chinese resent this byproduct of a democratic system.
This is the first time the Chinese have dared to denounce the US-managed international system, to label American policies as failures and to call openly for a restructuring of global politics and economics by reducing the role of the United States and the role of the US dollar as the world reserve medium of exchange and measure of value.
The Chinese leaders know that no safer investment exists than the US economy. However, they resent that the value of their investments depends on the vagaries of US politics. They would like to know whether other national leaders share their views and hope to stimulate a conversation about alternative models.
Afghanistan: US forces in Afghanistan captured a senior Pakistani Taliban commander, Latif Mehsud, during a military operation, a Pentagon spokesperson said on 11 October. Mehsud was forcibly snatched from an Afghan government convoy in Logar Province several weeks ago, enraging Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who viewed the operation as a breach of Afghan sovereignty. Kabul reportedly had been trying to recruit him to launch peace talks.
Comment: The reported US attack is the worst form of fratricide. Karzai was making progress in doing something Western leaders have not thought to do: making peace with the Pakistani Taliban so that they would help create a hostile environment for the Afghan Taliban who use Pakistan as a safe haven.
Karzai is looking to the post-US environment and is trying to help shape it so that the Afghan government under different leadership survives. US forces appear to be operating under outdated, short term assumptions and in violation of their rules of engagement. Attacking an Afghan government convoy has never been permitted.
Syria: For the record. Al Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri in an audio message released on 11 October urged jihadists in Syria to rise above organizational loyalties and unite behind the goal of setting up an Islamic state.
Al-Zawahri said he will not impose unity. Through unchecked ideology, megalomaniacal leadership and a lack of organizational control, al Qaeda's front group in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq in the Sham (ISIS…the word Sham refers to Syria and Lebanon) is overextending its capabilities as it embarks on a course of action that ultimately could lead to its degradation.
Comment: The significance of the message is that the impact of the in-fighting among opposition groups in Syria is so serious that it has reached Zawahiri in Pakistan. He senses the best opportunity to unite Arab lands in an Islamic emirate in 1,500 years is slipping away because of petty Arab rivalries and egos.
End of NightWatch for13 October.
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