North Korea, Paranoia, and Preemptive War

Rep. Peter T. King, the same paranoid McCarthyite who once claimed “that 80-85 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists,” stated the following in a recent CNN interview regarding the potential threat North Korea poses to the United States:

"I don’t think we necessarily have to wait until we’re attacked. If we have good reason to believe there’s going to be an attack, I believe we have the right to take preemptive action to protect ourselves. I don’t think we have to wait until Americans are killed or wounded or injured in any way….If we have solid evidence that North Korea is going to take action, then I think we have the moral obligation and the absolute right to defend ourselves." 

Unfortunately, King’s standard for “solid evidence” includes the false information used to justify the Iraq War, a conflict which King has heartily and repeatedly supported over the years. “Solid evidence,” for King, also constitutes statistics such as the aforementioned “80-85 percent” of mosques controlled by Islamic fundamentalists, an absurd estimation with no basis in fact that says much more about the threat of Rep. King’s own deluded mind than it does the alleged threat of mosques.

King went on to say: ”Certainly we have to be concerned by [North Korea] attempting to bring something into the country…” By “something,” King means a nuclear weapon. Author Gordon Chang, in a previous interview with CNN replayed for King, stated: ”[North Korea] can take a Toyota pickup truck, put a nuke in the back, and they can park it in any city.” These types of statements, which suggest that any U.S. citizen could plausibly be incinerated by a nuclear weapon from North Korea, obviously increase the likelihood that war will occur. We saw this same sort of rhetoric, propagated by the news media and politicians alike, delude millions of Americans into believing a war with Iraq was necessary to protect the security of their homeland. Yet networks like CNN continue to cite people like Peter King, who has repeatedly been proven dangerously wrong on national security issues, as experts on nuclear threats.

A much more insightful interview, and one that doesn’t cause its audience to sprint for the nearest bomb shelter, was conducted by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. Goodman’s guest, Christine Hong, an executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute, provided context to North Korea’s threats and detailed how the U.S. has inspired paranoia in North Korea just as North Korea has inspired paranoia in the U.S. Hong explained:

I thought that it was very interesting that the article that Amy began with cited Washington’s fear that North Korea might misperceive some of its recent actions, which, until recently, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was describing as “not provocative.” And…if you think about a kind of parallel circumstance—and I think it’s unimaginable for us in the United States to think of this—if you could just imagine, for example, Mexico, with a historic foe of the United States like Russia, conducting massive military exercises south of the United States border and in its surrounding waters…that simulate an invasion of the United States and a joint Mexico and Russian occupation of the United States, including simulations of nuclear first strikes, I mean, it’s difficult to conceive that the U.S. wouldn’t regard that as an act of hostility and aggression. And indeed, North Korea does.

The Nation's Bruce Cumings also wrote

At the end of March, Obama upped the ante by sending B-52 and B-2 Stealth bombers soaring over South Korea to drop dummy bombs. It was a needless and provocative re-enactment of “the empire strikes back”; more than sixty years ago, Washington initiated its nuclear blackmail of the North when it launched B-29s on simulated Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombing missions over North Korea in the fall of 1951. Operation Hudson Harbor dropped dummy A-bombs or heavy TNT bombs in a mission that called for “actual functioning of all activities which would be involved in an atomic strike, including weapons assembly and testing.” Ever since, nuclear weapons have been part of our war plans against the North; they were not used during the Korean War only because the US Air Force was able to raze every city in the North with conventional incendiaries. Hardly any Americans know about this, but every North Korean does; no wonder they have built some 15,000 underground facilities related to their national security. However provocative the North appears, we are reaping the whirlwind of our past nuclear bullying.


Last year, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said we have been “within an inch of war almost every day” with the North. Today, it looks more like millimeters. What a terrible commentary on seven decades of failed American policies toward Pyongyang.

Indeed. There is a way to avoid wars with other nations, no matter how irrational, dangerous, or undemocratic those nations might be, and it certainly doesn’t involve plans for a preemptive nuclear strike. 

43 Notes

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  12. fauxpolitics reblogged this from prettayprettaygood and added:
    A great post for those interested in recent developments with North Korea
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  17. metamorphoseandbodhi said: I’m not even sure why we regard N. Korea as a threat at all. It’s perplexing to me.
  18. prettayprettaygood posted this