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US Misses Opportunity For Peace Progress At Olympics

By Kevin Zeese / Popular Resistance

The unified Korean team marches in the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. Credit James Hill for The New York Times.

Despite President Moon’s Efforts to Encourage Diplomacy, Childish Anti-Diplomatic Behavior of Vice President Pence Undermines Opportunity for Peace Diplomacy

At a carefully planned dinner to honor Kim Yong Nam, the North Korean president’s sister, and Vice President Mike Pence, South Korean President Moon said that he hoped the Winter Olympics would be remembered as the “day peace began.” But, Vice President Mike Pence did his best to make sure that did not happen. He missed the opportunity created by Moon to further peace on the Korean peninsula. The historic opening created by North and South Korea at the Olympics was an opportunity, but Pence handled the situation like a childish teenager.

At a dinner reception where President Moon sought an opportunity for dialogue between the US and North Korea, Pence went to great lengths to avoid talking to the North Koreans. According to Reuters, when Pence arrived late to the reception, he told Moon he planned to leave directly after a photo session, but Moon asked him to “come and say hello to friends.” Moon was trying to create a dialogue to advance peace but Pence went around the table and shook hands with everyone except Kim Yong Nam of North Korea.

Reuters reports that Moon said, “There are some who would not want to be in the same room together if it wasn’t for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. But what is more important than anything is that we are together.” That seemed to be a statement that described the behavior of Pence. The mainstream political media outlet Politico described it as a close call for Pence:

Vice President Mike Pence’s Olympic visit to Pyeongchang, South Korea, began Friday with a close call with the North Korean officials, whom the vice president appeared to avoid at a diplomatic reception before the opening ceremonies.

Since Pence arrived at the dinner late, the seating plan was shuffled. Pence again missed an opportunity created by Moon. Originally, the seating plan showed Pence, with his wife to the left and Moon to his right, seated across the round table from Kim, who was nestled between U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and International Olympics Committee President Thomas Bach’s wife. Kim’s visit is significant as she is the first member of North Korea’s ruling family to enter South Korea since 1953. Who knows what kind of conversation could have occurred that furthered the peace process, but Pence avoided the opportunity.

Pence left the event after five minutes. Reuters reports that Pence missed the symbolic desert, called “A Plate of Hope,” a “dark chocolate tempered in the shape of barbed wire lay over a map of the Korean peninsula rendered in thin blue chocolate, a representation of the heavily militarized border that separates Games host South Korea and its old enemy in the North.”

Reuters reports the diplomatic response of the Moon administration was a reaction to the avoidance antics of Pence: “A source in the Moon administration said Pence’s absence at the reception was a ‘mere bump’ in an otherwise successful diplomatic event.”

At the Olympic stadium, Pence sat one row in front of the North Koreans. Even though Kim Jong Yo was very close to him, Pence did not even try to speak to her.  The pool report for the media was that Pence had “no interaction” with Kim Jong Yo. New York Magazine described it as Pence “avoiding eye contact” with the Korean leader.  Another missed opportunity for peace.

Vice President Pence, so close and yet so far from North Korea’s Kim Jong Yo. The two never even made eye contact.

Vice president Mike Pence, second from bottom right, sits between second lady Karen Pence, third from from bottom left, and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Behind Pence is Kim Jong Yo of North Korea. To the left is President Moon of South Korea and is wife.

While Pence was present, South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with Kim Yo Jong, creating a historic moment and a photograph that gave hopes to many for peace between North and South Korea and movement toward unification and an end of hostilities.

Another show of unity occurred when two members of the Unified Korean Hockey Team, one from the North and one from the South, carried the Olympic torch up the final flight of stairs in the opening ceremonies. They handed the torch over to figure skater Yuna Kim, a South Korean who won the gold medal in 2010 and the silver medal in 2014 who then lit the Olympic cauldron.

A historic moment of unity, two women who play on the unified Korean ice hockey team carried the Olympic torch for the last leg of its journey at the opening ceremony for the 2018 PyeongChang Games. Park Jong-ah of South Korea and Jong Su-hyon of North Korea carried the flame together across the stage and up a steep flight of stairs to the base of the Olympic cauldron.

We recognize that these images of North and South Korea shaking hands and being friendly toward each other as well as of South and North Korean athletes walking into the Olympic stadium together do not ensure peace on the Korean peninsula. It is a long hard road to peace, much still needs to be negotiated. Peace is made more difficult with the US threatening a ‘bloody nose’, teenage bully talk for a military first strike, against North Korea. Pence exemplified the worst of US foreign policy with his childish behavior at the Olympics.

North Korean olympic delegation athletes holding flag of unification before entering Olympic stadium.

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Regime Change Fails: Is A Military Coup Or Invasion Of Venezuela Next?

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers / Popular Resistance

Speaking at his alma mater, the University of Texas, on February 1, Secretary of State Tillerson suggested a potential military coup in Venezuela.  Tillerson then visited allied Latin American countries urging regime change and more economic sanctions on Venezuela. Tillerson is considering banning the processing or sale of Venezuelan oil in the United States and is discouraging other countries from buying Venezuelan oil. Further, the US is laying the groundwork for war against Venezuela.

In a series of tweets, Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican from Florida, where many Venezuelan oligarchs live, called for a military coup in Venezueala.

How absurd — remove an elected president with a military coup to restore democracy? Does that pass the straight face test? This refrain of Rubio and Tillerson seems to be the nonsensical public position of US policy.

The US has been seeking regime change in Venezuela since Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998. Trump joined Presidents Obama and Bush before him in continuing efforts to change the government and put in place a US-friendly oligarch government.

They came closest in 2002 when a military coup removed Chavez. The Commander-in-Chief of the Venezuelan military announced Chavez had resigned and Pedro Carmona, of the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce, became interim president. Carmona dissolved the National Assembly and Supreme Court and declared the Constitution void. The people surrounded the presidential palace and seized television stations, Carmona resigned and fled to Colombia. Within 47 hours, civilians and the military restored Chavez to the presidency. The coup was a turning point that strengthened the Bolivarian Revolution, showed people could defeat a coup and exposed the US and oligarchs.

US Regime Change Tactics Have Failed In Venezuela

The US and oligarchs continue their efforts to reverse the Bolivarian Revolution. The US has a long history of regime change around the world and has tried all of its regime change tools in Venezuela. So far they have failed.

Economic War
Destroying the Venezuelan economy has been an ongoing campaign by the US and oligarchs. It is reminiscent of the US coup in Chile which ended the presidency of Salvador Allende. To create the environment for the Chilean coup, President Nixon ordered the CIA to “make the economy scream.”

Henry Kissinger devised the coup noting a billion dollars of investment were at stake. He also feared the “the insidious model effect” of the example of Chile leading to other countries breaking from the United States and capitalism. Kissinger’s top deputy at the National Security Council, Viron Vaky, opposed the coup saying, “What we propose is patently a violation of our own principles and policy tenets .… If these principles have any meaning, we normally depart from them only to meet the gravest threat . . . our survival.”

These objections hold true regarding recent US coups, including in Venezuela and Honduras, Ukraine and Brazil, among others. Allende died in the coup and wrote his last words to the people of Chile, especially the workers, “Long live the people! Long live the workers!” He was replaced by Augusto Pinochet, a brutal and violent dictator.

For decades the US has been fighting an economic war, “making the economy scream,” in Venezuela. Wealthy Venezuelans have been conducting economic sabotage aided by the US with sanctions and other tactics. This includes hoarding food, supplies and other necessities in warehouses or in Colombia while Venezuelan markets are bare. The scarcity is used to fuel protests, e.g. “The March of the Empty Pots,” a carbon copy of marches in Chile before the September 11, 1973 coup. Economic warfare has escalated through Obama and under Trump, with Tillerson now urging economic sanctions on oil.

President Maduro recognized the economic hardship but also said sanctions open up the opportunity for a new era of independence and “begins the stage of post-domination by the United States, with Venezuela again at the center of this struggle for dignity and liberation.” The second-in-command of the Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello, said, “[if they] apply sanctions, we will apply elections.”

Opposition Protests
Another common US regime change tool is supporting opposition protests. The Trump administration renewed regime change operations in Venezuela and the anti-Maduro protests, which began under Obama, grew more violent. The opposition protests included barricades, snipers and murders as well as widespread injuries. When police arrested those using violence, the US claimed Venezuela opposed free speech and protests.

The opposition tried to use the crack down against violence to achieve the US tactic of  dividing the military. The US and western media ignored opposition violence and blamed the Venezuelan government instead. Violence became so extreme it looked like the opposition was pushing Venezuela into a Syrian-type civil war. Instead, opposition violence backfired on them.

Violent protests are part of US regime change repertoire. This was demonstrated in the US coup in Ukraine, where the US spent $5 billion to organize government opposition including US and EU funding violent protesters. This tactic was used in early US coups like the 1953 Iran coup of Prime Minister Mossadegh. The US has admitted organizing this coup that ended Iran’s brief experience with democracy. Like Venezuela, a key reason for the Iran coup was control of the nation’s oil.

Funding Opposition
There has been massive US investment in creating opposition to the Venezuelan government. Tens of millions of dollars have been openly spent through USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy and other related US regime change agencies. It is unknown how much the CIA has spent from its secret budget, but the CIA has also been involved in Venezuela. Current CIA director, Mike Pompeo, said he is “hopeful there can be a transition in Venezuela.”

The United States has also educated leaders of opposition movements, e.g. Leopoldo López was educated at private schools in the US, including the CIA-associated Kenyon College. He was groomed at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and made repeated visits to the regime change agency, the National Republican Institute.

While the US calls Venezuela a dictatorship, it is in fact a strong democracy with an excellent voting system. Election observers monitor every election.

In 2016, the economic crisis led to the opposition winning a majority in the National Assembly. One of their first acts was to pass an amnesty law. The law described 17 years of crimes including violent felonies and terrorism committed by the opposition. It was an admission of crimes back to the 2002 coup and through 2016. The law demonstrated violent treason against Venezuela. One month later, the Supreme Court of Venezuela ruled the amnesty law was unconstitutional. US media, regime change advocates and anti-Venezuela human rights groups attacked the Supreme Court decision, showing their alliance with the admitted criminals.

Years of violent protests and regime change attempts, and then admitting their crimes in an amnesty bill, have caused those opposed to the Bolivarian Revolution to lose power and become unpopular.  In three recent elections Maduro’s party won regional, local and the Constituent Assembly elections.

The electoral commission announced the presidential election will be held on April 22. Maduro will run for re-election with the United Socialist Party. Opposition leaders such as Henry Ramos and Henri Falcon have expressed interest in running, but the opposition has not decided whether to participateHenrique Capriles, who narrowly lost to Maduro in the last election, was banned from running for office because of irregularities in his campaign, including taking foreign donations. Capriles has been a leader of the violent protests. When his ban was announced he called for protests to remove Maduro from office. Also banned was Leopoldo Lopez, another leader of the violent protests who is under house arrest serving a thirteen year sentence for inciting violence.

Now, the United States says it will not recognize the presidential election and urges a military coup. For two years, the opposition demanded presidential elections, but now it is unclear whether they will participate. They know they are unpopular and Maduro is likely to be re-elected.

Is War Against Venezuela Coming?

A military coup faces challenges in Venezuela as the people, including the military, are well educated about US imperialism. Tillerson openly urging a military coup makes it more difficult.

The government and opposition recently negotiated a peace settlement entitled “Democratic Coexistence Agreement for Venezuela.” They agreed on all of the issues including ending economic sanctions, scheduling elections and more. They agreed on the date of the next presidential election. It was originally planned for March, but in a concession to the opposition, it was  rescheduled for the end of April. Maduro signed the agreement even though the opposition did not attend the signing ceremony. They backed out after Colombian President Santos, who was meeting with Secretary Tillerson, called and told them not to sign. Maduro will now make the agreement a public issue by allowing the people of Venezuela to sign it.

Not recognizing elections and urging a military coup are bad enough, but more disconcerting is that Admiral Kurt Tidd, head of Southcom, held a closed door meeting in Colombia after Tillerson’s visit. The topic was “regional destabilization” and Venezuela was a focus.

A military attack on Venezuela from its Colombian and Brazilian borders is not far fetched. In January, the NY Times asked, “Should the US military invade Venezuela?” President Trump said the US is considering US military force against Venezuela. His chief of staff, John Kelly, was formerly the general in charge of Southcom. Tidd has claimed the crisis, created in large part by the economic war against Venezuela, requires military action for humanitarian reasons.

War preparations are already underway in Colombia, which plays the role of Israel for the US in Latin America. The coup government in Brazil, increased its military budget 36 percent, and participated in Operation: America United, the largest joint military exercise in Latin American history. It was one of four military exercises by the US with Brazil, Colombia and Peru in Latin America in 2017. The US Congress ordered the Pentagon to develop military contingencies for Venezuela in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

While there is opposition to US military bases, James Patrick Jordan explains, on our radio show, the US has military bases in Colombia and the Caribbean and military agreements with countries in the region; and therefore, Venezuela is already surrounded.

The United States is targeting Venezuela because the Bolivarian Revolution provides an example against US imperialism. An invasion of Venezuela will become another war-quagmire that kills innocent Venezuelans, US soldiers and others over control of oil. People in the United States who support the self-determination of countries should show solidarity with Venezuelans, expose the US agenda and publicly denounce regime change. We need to educate people about what is really happening in Venezuela to overcome the false media coverage.

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Surrendering a Brussels mosque: A Saudi break with ultra-conservatism?

By James M. Dorsey / Mid-East Soccer.

Saudi Arabia, in an indication that it is serious about shaving off the sharp edges of its Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism, has agreed to surrender control of the Great Mosque in Brussels.

The decision follows mounting Belgian criticism of alleged intolerance and supremacism that was being propagated by the mosque’s Saudi administrators as well as social reforms in the kingdom introduced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, including a lifting of the ban on women’s driving, the granting of women’s access to male sporting events and introduction of modern forms of entertainment.

Relinquishing control of the mosque reportedly strokes with a Saudi plan to curtail support for foreign mosques and religious and cultural institutions that have been blamed for sprouting radicalism. With few details of the plan known, it remains unclear what the curtailing entails.

It also remains unclear what effect it would have. A report published last month by the Royal Danish Defence College and three Pakistani think tanks concluded that madrassas or religious seminaries in Pakistan, a hotbed of militant religious education, were no longer dependent on foreign funding. It said that foreign funding accounted for a mere seven percent of the income of madrassas in the country.

Like with Prince Mohammed’s vow last November to return Saudi Arabia to an undefined “moderate” form of Islam, its too early to tell what the Brussels decision and the social reforms mean beyond trying to improve the kingdom’s tarnished image and preparing it for a beyond-oil, 21st century economic and social existence.

The decision would at first glance seem to be primarily a public relations move and an effort to avoid rattling relations with Belgium and the European Union given that the Brussels mosque is the exception that confirms the rule. It is one of a relatively small number of Saudi-funded religious, educational and cultural institutions that was managed by the kingdom.

The bulk of institutions as well as political groupings and individuals worldwide who benefitted from Saudi Arabia’s four decades-long, $100 billion public diplomacy campaign, the single largest in history, aimed at countering post-1979 Iranian revolutionary zeal, operated independently.

By doing so, Saudi Arabia has let a genie out of the bottle that it not only cannot control, but that also leads an independent life of its own. The Saudi-inspired ultra-conservative environment has also produced groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State that have turned on the kingdom.

Relinquishing control of the Brussels mosque allows Saudi Arabia to project itself as distancing itself from its roots in ultra-conservatism that date back to an 18th century power sharing arrangement between the Al Saud family and Mohammed ibn Abdul Wahhab, a preacher whose descendants are at the core of the kingdom’s religious establishment.

The decision, Prince Mohammed’s initial social reforms, and plans to cut funding notwithstanding, Saudi Arabia appears to be making less of clean break on the frontlines of its confrontation with Iran where support for ultra-conservative and/or militant groups is still the name of the game.

Saudi Arabia said last month that it would open a Salafi missionary centre in the Yemeni province of Al Mahrah on the border with Oman and the kingdom. Saudi Arabia’s ill-fated military intervention in Yemen was sparked by its conflict with Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, a Zaydi Shiite Muslim sect with roots in a region bordering the kingdom, that dates to Saudi employment of Salafism to counter the group in the 1980s and early this century.

Saudi militants reported in the last year that Saudi nationals of Baloch origin were funnelling large amounts of money into militant madrassas in the Pakistani province of Balochistan on the border with Iran. Saudi-funded ultraconservative Sunni Muslim madrassas operated by anti-Shiite militants dominate the region’s educational landscape.

The money flowed, although it was not clear whether the Saudi donors had tacit government approval, at a time that Saudi Arabia is toying with the idea of seeking to destabilize Iran by stirring unrest among its multiple minorities, including the Baloch.

A militant Islamic scholar, who operates militant madrassas in the triangle where the borders of Balochistan, Iran and Afghanistan meet, was last year named a globally designated terrorist by the US Treasury while he was fundraising in the kingdom.

Algerian media reports last month detailed Saudi propagation of a quietist, apolitical yet supremacist and anti-pluralistic form of Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism in the North African country. The media published a letter by a prominent Saudi scholar that appointed three ultra-conservative Algerian clerics as the representatives of Salafism.

“While Saudi Arabia tries to promote the image of a country that is ridding itself of its fanatics, it sends to other countries the most radical of its doctrines,” asserted independent Algerian newspaper El Watan.

The decision to relinquish control of the Brussels mosque that in 1969 had been leased rent-free to the kingdom for a period of 99 years by Belgian King Baudouin followed a Belgian parliamentary inquiry into last year’s attack on Brussels’ international Zaventem airport and a metro station in the city in which 32 people were killed. The inquiry advised the government to cancel the mosque contract on the grounds that Saudi-inspired ultra-conservatism could contribute to extremism.

Michel Privot of the European Network Against Racism, estimated that 95 percent of Muslim education in Belgium was provided by Saudi-trained imams.

“There is a huge demand within Muslim communities to know about their religion, but most of the offer is filled by a very conservative Salafi type of Islam sponsored by Saudi Arabia. Other Muslim countries have been unable to offer grants to students on such a scale,” Mr. Privot said.

The US embassy in Brussels, in a 2007 cable leaked by Wikileaks, reported that “there is a noted absence in the life of Islam in Belgium of broader cultural traditions such as literature, humanism and science which defaults to an ambient practice of Islam pervaded by a more conservative Salafi interpretation of the faith.”

Saudi Arabia has worked hard in the last year to alter perceptions of its Islamic-inspired beliefs.

Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, a former Saudi justice minister and secretary general of the World Muslim League, the group that operates the Brussels mosque and has served for half a century as a key funding vehicle for ultra-conservatism insisted on a visited last year to the Belgian capital that Islam “cannot be equated and judged by the few events and attacks, carried out because of political or geo-strategic interests. As a religion, Islam teaches humanity, tolerance, and mutual respect.
Mr. Al-Issa, in a first in a country that long distributed copies of the Protocols of Zion, an early 20th century anti-Semitic tract, last month, expressed last month on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that commemorates Nazi persecution of the Jews “great sympathy with the victims of the Holocaust, an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person.”

Mr. Al-Issa’s comments no doubt also signalled ever closer ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, who both bitterly oppose Iran’s regional influence. Nonetheless, they constituted a radical rupture in Saudi Arabia, where Islamic scholars, often described Jews as “the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs.”

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and co-host of the New Books in Middle Eastern Studies podcast. James is the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title as well as Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa, and the forthcoming China and the Middle East: Venturing into the Maelstrom

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We asked, you voted: 89 percent said no to Trump’s military parade

By: Tara Copp / Military Times.

Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment and service members from around the Department of Defense participate in the 58th Presidential Inauguration and parade January 20, 2017. (Army)

As the Pentagon continues to work on parade options to present to President Donald Trump, an overwhelming number of Military Times readers have weighed in: Don’t have one.

The informal poll was launched Wednesday after news reports that Trump had requested a military parade and that the Pentagon was working on parade options for him.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 51,000 readers had responded. The majority, 89 percent, responded “No, It’s a waste of money and troops are too busy.”

The other 11 percent responded “Yes, it’s a great opportunity to show off U.S. military might.”

On Thursday, Pentagon press secretary Dana White said any parade plans were in the very beginning stages, and that the Pentagon had tapped the Army to lead the effort.

“We are looking at several different options right now,” White said. “The Army is the executive agent. But we don’t have those options yet. Its still in nascent stages and when we have those options we’ll provide that to the White House and the president will decide.”

Olympic Games Make US Regime Paranoid and Unpredictable

By David William Pear, February 14, 2018

[Photo:  North Korean cheerleaders wave unification flags during Team Korea's ice hockey game against Sweden at the Gwandong Ice Hockey Center in Gangneung, Monday. / Yonhap, Korean Times ]


Despite all the efforts of a paranoid and unpredictable US regime, the Koreans are making peace not war during the 2018 Winter Olympics. The US is furious and pulling out all the stops to tarnish the Games, and it is trying to put South Korea back on the US colonial leash. South Korea's democratically elected peace-president Moon Jae-in is showing signs that he is not an America poodle on a short leash.

Even during the Olympics, the US feels threatened by peace, unity and cooperation. Like a drone hurling bombs at wedding parties and funerals, the US regime tries to sabotage the Olympics’ peaceful spirit.  The US feels the need to flex its military muscle in order to feel strong and powerful.  A large group of high value targets which the US cannot control triggers an algorithm of paranoia in want of a signature strike.  The US habit is to shoot first and ask questions later.

US Weaponized the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

As Obama said , "I have two words for you, Predator Drone.”  It worked for Obama during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. For almost eight years Russia had been preparing for the celebration of its emergence from the ashes of chaos sown by US neoliberal economists that preached privatization, looting of state enterprises, and austerity for Russian citizens during the decade of the 1990's.

The US economic advisors to Russia's president Boris Yeltsin led Russia down a yellow brick road they said would lead to a golden transformation from communism to Western-style capitalism. When the neoliberal transformation turned into an economic train wreck the US Nobel Prize winning economists from the Chicago School of Economics said it was just a temporary hard landing. The Russians had had enough of US-style voodoo economics and elected Vladimir Putin as their leader. Putin told the Chicago boys thank you very much, showed the economic shamans and their cronies to the exit door and kicked them out of Russia. The US would never forgive Putin and they would go on to do everything they could to shun, vilify and regime-change him.

During the years while Vladimir Putin was engineering a recovery of Russia's economy, the US regime was spending $5 billion plotting a coup d'etat in Ukraine. The putsch came while Russia was distracted celebrating the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. To prepare the US public for a resumption of a US-led Cold War the international cartel of Western propaganda organs had been laying the groundwork of anti-Russian propaganda for years. The Russia vilification project was to smear Vladimir Putin as a thug, homophobic killer of journalists, invader of Georgia, and an evil dictator.  Later Putin would be accused of invading Ukraine.  Western anti-Russian propaganda turns the truth upside down.

While the Russians and the rest of the world celebrated in Sochi, fascist agent provocateurs instigated a violent overthrow of Russia's neighbor (and the heart of Russia’s historical civilization) Ukraine and its democratically elected government of Viktor Yanukovych.

After the coup became a fact on the ground, fascist groups such as Svoboda, Right Sector, OUN and the Azov Battalion became emboldened, especially after the visit to Ukraine by CIA director John Brennan in April 2014.  Fascists supported by the US were given military aid; and they are hero worshipers of Stepan Bandera, and his ideology of anti-Semitic white supremacy and Ukrainian nationalism.  Ukrainian nationalism advocates the ethnic cleansing of Ukraine in what is called anti-terrorist operations (pogroms), indiscriminate shelling of cities and the massacre of civilians.

Ukrainian fascists have committed lynches and atrocities against those that opposed the putsch; oppose fascist Ukrainian nationalism, Russian speaking Ukrainians, Jews, homosexuals, non-whites, and ethnic Russians.  Ukrainian fascists have been responsible for violence such as in Odessa where scores of anti-coup activists were burned to death in the House of Trade Unions building, reminiscent of WW2 war crimes of forcing people into buildings and burning them alive.

When the historically Russian Crimean Peninsula’s ethnic Russian population voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia, Putin would be accused by Western propaganda of invading Crimea.  Western propaganda kept making front page news that Russia had invaded Ukraine with little green men, but when the evidence proved false the retractions were buried.

Many Russians have relatives, friends and deep ties to Ukraine.  It is to be expected that some Russians would voluntarily jointed the Donbass and Lugansk (eastern Ukraine) separatist movements and self-defense forces.  Russia still openly sends truck convoys of humanitarian aid to the cutoff eastern Ukraine, and has acknowledged having limited covert personnel in Donbass and Lugansk, but no invasion.

The US, which has illegally invaded dozens of countries since World War Two, chose to lead an economic sanction regime against Russia over its annexation of Crimea, its limited involvement in Ukraine, and Russia’s legal military aid to Syria.  The real motive of the US seems to be to intensify the Cold War for geopolitical reasons.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up Department

In the you can’t make this stuff up department: US educated and John McCain buddy Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia who attacked ethnic Russians in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008, was given Ukrainian citizenship in 2014.  Saakashvili had fled Georgia to avoid criminal arrest.  In 2015 he was appointed the mayor of the Odessa region; along with many other carpetbaggers to Ukraine.  In 2017 Saakashvili was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship and he fled to the US. He is now wanted by Ukrainian authorities.

For those that don’t remember, Saakashvili was the one who set off the Russo-Georgia war, which Western propaganda turned upside down and accused Putin of invading Georgia.  Is it a coincident that this all happened during the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics?  More likely, it was a coincident and had to do with US elections.

Saakashvili attacked South Ossetia and Abkhazia during his friend John McCain’s failed presidential bid against Barack Obama.  McCain tried to use the trouble to boost his election chances, which were about sunk.  McCain who is virulently anti-Russian embarrassed himself by saying, “today, we are all Georgians".  That battle cry against Russia gave him little traction.   McCain still says he is a Georgian, but his old friend Saakashvili is a man without a country.

US Politicizes 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics

For the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea the US has been ramping up tensions and imposing more economy killer-sanctions (i.e. embargo-blockade) on North Korea.  South Korea is championed for the propaganda value that democracy and Western-style capitalism produced its miracle economy; while it is said that North Korea cannot feed its own people:  so let’s add tougher sanctions?

Miracles only happen in fairytales, and South Korea’s miracle economy took billions of dollars in US aid, and a US $55 billion bailout of South Korea’s in 1997.  South Korea did not develop under Western democracy and capitalism; it developed under military dictatorships and a planned export economy.

In 2017 the US regime got a sneaking suspicion that things were not going as planned. The feisty South Korean people said they had had enough of the US-backed president Park Geun-hye, granddaughter of the US-backed military dictator Park Chung-hee, who ruled from 1963 to 1979. In late 2016 the South Korean people began mass protests, holding candlelight vigils demanding the impeachment of Park Geun-hye.

Candlelight vigils have become a tradition of South Korean protesters since the 2002 killing of a South Korean girl by US occupation soldiers. When the soldiers were being court martialed by the US military, the South Korean people held candlelight vigils demanding justice. They didn't get it. The soldiers were found not guilty, but the non-violent candlelight vigils continued as a tradition of political protest.

The candlelight vigils against Park Geun-hye grew in 2017 until the South Korean parliament was forced to respond and impeach Park for corruption and influence peddling. Park Geun-hye is now in prison, where her grandfather should have once been too, if an assassin's bullet had not found him first in 1979. Her grandfather had also been a collaborator during Korea's humiliation of Japanese colonialism. Collaboration and corruption run in the family.

In the May 2017 elections that followed Park's ouster the South Korean people, especially the younger generation, said they had had enough of US instigated animosity between them and their Northern brothers and sisters. Moon Jae-in ran an election campaign on a platform of anti-cronyism with industry, increased social programs for the people and a Sunshine Policy 2, similar to that of former President Kim Dae-jung. Moon won a landslide victory on his platform of peace and social justice.

The US regime has been sulking, plotting and hyperventilating with sarcasm, saber rattling and retaliation against both South Korea and North Korea for resuming relations that had been put on pause in 2008 with the election of hardliner Lee Myung-bak. Before Moon could even take office in May, the US regime humiliated him and caused him to lose face in April by putting THAAD missiles in South Korea. Thousands of South Koreans protested against the THAAD's, but since the US has military operational (colonial) control in South Korea the peoples' protests were ignored. Instead the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson rained on the Sunshine before it even dawned.

In April 2017 Tillerson was already advocating tougher economic sanctions against North Korea.  For months now the US has been raising the volume of the rhetoric against North Korea, threatening war, installing THAAD missiles, shipping more nukes to Guam, and tightening the screws of the embargo. All options are on the table except the diplomatic option.

Vice President Pence even refused to stand with everyone else during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.  That was more than bad manners in Korea where face and harmony are socially important, and it reflects badly on the US.  According to the Korean Times, Pence later said that he was “opposed to inter-Korean talks until North Korea agreed to start negotiations on denuclearization”.

Pence continues the propaganda word games on negotiations: it is the US that refuses to negotiate until North Korea meets certain preconditions.  The US will not even say what the preconditions are and may not know itself.  The US vacillates on talks from one day to the next and depending on who is speaking:  Trump, Tillerson, Pence or the State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert. The North Koreans have consistently offered to negotiate without any preconditions.  The mainstream media rarely is honest, usually telling the public that the North Koreans “refuse to come to the negotiation table”.

To make sure that he spoils the good mood of the Olympics, Pence announced that the US would, “soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever”.  An embargo is war by other means.  Christine Ahn of Women Cross DMZ said to The Real News Network that the US economic embargo is a “policy of strangulation”.

The embargo is siege warfare like that used in the Ancient Era.  The US is holding North Korean children hostage, and it is literally saying that it will kill one North Korean child every day until North Korea bends to the US will.  This is barbaric, uncivilized and inhumane.  It is a war crime and a crime against humanity.  It is against the Geneva Conventions, even though the embargo was authorized by the UN Security Council.

After the First Gulf War and during the 1990’s UN Security Council embargo of Iraq, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reminded the parties involved that:

“Any decision by the Security Council to impose economic sanctions in the course of an armed conflict has to be in conformity with international humanitarian law, in particular with the provisions on relief for needy civilians as set out by the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

With the knowledge of hindsight we know that the economic embargo against Iraq killed over 500,000 Iraqi children.  Even knowing that, the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a person without a human conscience, said on television that “IT WAS WORTH IT”.

Any coercion of one country against another is aggression, especially if that country is acting within it legal rights as a sovereign nation. North Korea has broken no international law and it has as much right as South Korea, Japan and the US to have nuclear power for electricity, to test missiles; and it has as much right as the US to have a nuclear arms program and nuclear bombs.

North Korea has not committed aggression against any other country or threatened to attack anyone except in self-defense. The US, its allies and the UN have overstepped their bounds in punishing North Korea for what it has every legal right to do. If the US is so concerned about nuclear proliferation, then it should start living up to its own obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which the US has not done, and go talk to their friends Pakistan, India, and Israel.

It should be remembered that the US was the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Korean Peninsula.  It is a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for the nuclear armed US to threaten a non-nuclear power, which is why North Korea has developed nuclear weapons.  In 1957 President Dwight D. Eisenhower unilaterally nullified paragraph 13(d) of the 1953 Armistice Agreement and introduced nuclear weapons into South Korea (YouTube).

Economic embargos kill by restricting the imports of food, medicine, fuel and other essentials. Economic embargos deny the victim the ability to export its products in exchange for hard currency, puts a freeze on their foreign assets, and makes international monetary transactions nearly impossible.  In the 21 st century economic sanctions, embargos, blockades, call them whatever; they are siege warfare, and a weapon of mass destruction.  Embargos kill civilians and non-combatants indiscriminately and disproportionately.  It is by definition a war crime.

North Korea has proven that the US propaganda that it refuses to sit at the negotiation table is a lie. The North Koreans have offered time and again to negotiate with the US, it has offered to suspend its nuclear program, and North Korea has even offered multiple times to negotiate a final peace treaty to the Korean War, which ended in 1953 with an armistice, but not a final peace.  North Korea and South Korea are at the negotiation table now.

North Korea and South Korea are meeting, talking and marching under a unified flag. The US is throwing a tantrum and accusing Kim Jong-un's extended olive branch as being a dirty trick. The US says that Kim Jong-un is just trying to divide South Korea from the US. The US regime is humiliating South Korean by saying that they are weak, off the colonial leash, and going it alone without paternalistic protection.


South Korea and North Korea have taken the initiative to resolve their differences peacefully.  The US is trying to abort the peace process, it is acting aggressively, it is engaged in war by other means, and it is illegally imposing an embargo on North Korea.  The embargo is siege warfare and a weapon of mass destruction that kills indiscriminately and disproportionately non-combatants, especially the young, the elderly and the sick.  The US is committing a premeditated war crime and a crime against humanity.

The US has victimized Korea since the US first invaded it in 1871.  The US backed the Japanese subjugation and colonization of Korea when the US mediated the Treaty of Portsmouth ending the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.  The US interfered in the Korean Civil War of 1950 to 1953, killing several million Koreans and destroying every city, town, village and the civilian infrastructure in North Korea and much of South Korea.  The US has refused repeated offers by North Korea to negotiate a final peace treaty to the Korean War, and the US has perpetuated the unnatural division of Korea.  Korea deserves the liberation and independence the US promised them at the end of World War Two in 1945.  All the US needs to do is get out of the way and let the Koreans decide their own destiny.

David William Pear, currently serving as a senior contributing editor for The Greanville Post, is a progressive columnist writing on economic, political and social issues. He is also a regular columnist and commenter on OpedNews. His articles have also been published by The Real News Network, Truth Out, Consortium News, Russia Insider, Pravda and many other progressive publications.

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