Why North Korea Can Never Trust the U.S.

By David William Pear, a progressive columnist writing on economic, political and social issues. His articles have been published by OpEdNews, The Greanville Post, The Real News Network, Truth Out, Consortium News, Global Research, and many other publications.   David is active in social issues relating to peace, race relations and religious freedom, homelessness and equal justice. David is a member of Veterans for Peace, Saint Pete for Peace, CodePink, and International Solidarity Movement. Originally published in the Greenville Post

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (i.e. North Korea) cannot trust the United States of America.  The US does not keep its promises, honor its treaties and obey international laws. This is not opinion; it is the history of the US, beginning with the many broken promises and treaties with the Native Americans.

The US has broken promises and treaties in every corner of the globe.  The US ignores the UN Charter, which is a treaty. It flouts international law, which is based on treaties.  The US habitually starts asymmetrical wars, which is aggression and the worst of all war crimes.  It destroys nations, leaving millions of people dead, dying, and in misery.

Libya was once a prosperous nation. Muammar Gaddafi was an eccentric dictator, but he had a love for Libya and its people.  Under Gaddafi the people enjoyed a high standard of living, economic freedom, and gender equality.  Education and medical care were free.  Having a home and food was considered a human right.  Libya’s oil wealth benefited the people.

Gaddafi was attacked and vilified by the US for decades. After the attacks on the US of September 11, 2001 Gaddafi cooperated with the US in the War on Terror.  That is not to say that the War on Terror was a good thing, but Gaddafi was being US friendly.  In further efforts to establish friendly relations with the US, Gaddafi denuclearized in 2003.  President George W. Bush praised Libya for denuclearizing and suggested Libya as a model for North Korea.  In 2011 President Obama wantonly destroyed Libya and conspired in Gaddafi’s assassination. Obama’s Secretary of State gloated afterwards “we came, we saw, he died…ha,ha,ha”.

Even if North Korea completely and forever denuclearizes Kim Jong-un can never be assured that one day the US won’t try to do the same thing to North Korea that it did to Libya.  North Korea can never put its trust in the US, because the US has proved itself untrustworthy over and over again.

Iraq did not have a nuclear weapons program since the early 1990’s.  After the First Gulf War in 1991, Saddam Hussein cooperated with the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors right up until the US invasion in 2003.  The weapons inspectors advised against the invasion and recommended that the inspections be continued.  President George W. Bush invaded anyway based on known lies t hat Saddam Hussein had a nuclear weapons program.  After the invasion and destruction of Iraq, 1625 weapons inspectors spent the next 2 years searching Iraq and found no weapons of mass destruction.

The US continues to accuse Iran of having a nuclear weapons program even though the IAEA certifies that it doesn’t, and all 16 US intelligence agencies have said that Iran has not had an active nuclear weapons program since 2003.  Facts do not matter to the US.  It creates its own reality.  Based on its own unreality, the US can invent any reason it wants to impose sanctions and invade asymmetrical countries.

Iraq denuclearized, Libya denuclearized and Iran denuclearized.  The US invaded Iraq based on the unreality of the existence of nuclear weapons.  Libya was invaded based on the invented unreality that the invasion was for human rights.  The US has imposed sanctions on Venezuela because it does not consider it “democratic enough”.  The US has imposed sanction against Russia because of its alleged invasion of Ukraine, after a US instigated putsch.

If North Korea completely denuclearizes and the US removes all economic sanctions, there is no way to guarantee that some future US president won’t accuse North Korea of secretly harboring a nuclear program.  Or the US can invent a false flag event or use a “red-herring” to impose economic sanctions.  A red-herring is an issue that distracts from the real issue.

Economic sanctions are financial weapons of mass destruction that kill hundreds of thousands of people.  The US can always find a red-herring excuse for imposing sanctions, as it has with Venezuela.  With Venezuela the real issue is not democracy.  Venezuela has regular elections, while the USA backs many dictators and absolute monarchs all over the world.  The real issue is that Venezuela nationalized its oil wealth to benefit its own people, costing Exxon and other US oil corporations billions of dollars in profits.

Human rights in North Korea is a red-herring, which the US propaganda mills keep grinding out.  North Korean defectors are paid a reward up to $860,000 depending on their intelligence and propaganda value.  Tales of North Korean human rights abuses are not based on facts, but are rumors based on rumors and propaganda.  The US does not care about human rights.  The only thing the US foreign policy cares about is its empire and taking care of US corporate interests around the world.  Otherwise the US would do something about Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy and the most brutal regime in the world.  The US is an accomplice to Saudi Arabia’s genocidal bombing and blockade of Yemen, which is starving millions of civilians.  Saudi Arabia beheads or crucifies over 100 prisoners every year.  One never hears a peep out of the US State Department about human rights in Saudi Arabia.

The US never squawks about human rights in Columbia, Egypt, Honduras, Israel, Rwanda, Turkey, Ukraine, or its own atrocious human rights record.  The US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners; yet it constantly harps about North Korea allegedly having a “gulag of 200,000 political prisoners”.

The US has made a political issue of the tragic death of Otto Warmbier, yet the Hamilton County, Ohio coroner report says it found no evidence that he was tortured while a prisoner in North Korea. The US is using his death for propaganda, and not because it cares about an individual life.

The US has killed millions of civilians in its illegal wars of aggression, bombed thousands of hospitals, schools and civilian infrastructures over the past 70 years.  The US has black sites where it tortures victims that it has abducted and imprisoned secretly and illegally.  The US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Torture Report is evidence that the US has tortured to death prisoners in black sites and at Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Between 1948 and 1987 South Korea was ruled by US puppet dictators, such as Syngman Rhee and Park Chung-Hee.  They killed, tortured, and imprisoned without trial hundreds of thousands of South Koreans they considered dissidents.  South Korea still enforces it repressive National Security Act, which is a violation of human rights.  The law criminalizes political views it considers unpatriotic. Peace activists risk being thrown in prison.  It is a crime in South Korea to associate with anyone even suspected of being a communist or sympathetic to North Korea.  South Korea has thousands of political prisoners under the National Security Act.

North Korea’s missiles are another red herring issue. It is not against international law for a country to have missiles, even intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). Every country has the right to have missiles for self-defense, launch satellites and explore outer space.  Actually it is not against any international law for a country who is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to have nuclear weapons.  North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, which it had every legal right to do.

North Korea has missiles and nuclear weapons because the US has been threatening it with invasion and nuclear weapons since 1953.  North Korea is a poor country, and it is economically less costly for self-defense to have nuclear weapons and missiles than to maintaining a modern air force and keep up the conventional arms race with South Korea.


The threat of war in Korea has its roots in Washington and not in Pyongyang.  It is the USA that is the aggressor.  The US is a savagely violent and aggressive nation with the ambition of an empire that rules the world.  It demands that other nations submit to its will.  The US does not hesitate to use overwhelming violence against small nations to enforce its hegemony.  It will punish them until they submit or until they are so utterly destroyed that they are an example to other countries that even think about disobeying US dictates. During the Korean War the US killed 3 million Koreans.  The US killed another 5 millionSouth East Asians during the Vietnam War.  Millions have been killed in the War on Terror.  Civilians are the main victims.

The power of the US is so enormous that if it were not so tragic it would be laughable when the US claims that it is being threatened by North Korea.  North Korea is a nation of 25 million peasants, with a Gross Domestic Product of approximately $20 billion, and a military budget of $6 billion.  It is not a threat to the national security of the US, with its high-tech military and a budget that exceeds $1 trillion dollars per year.

A war with the U.S. would be madness.  Kim Jong-un and his government are not insane, but the many US war mongers and war criminals such as John Bolton are.  The US has a long history of war madness, most recently in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine.

It is nuclear madness for the US to move NATO to Russia’s border.  In the US instigated putsch in Ukraine, the Obama administration admittedthat it was willing to risk a nuclear war with Russia. The Pentagon insanely plans for limited nuclear wars and winnable nuclear wars.  The US has an insane first strike policy, which means that other nuclear powered adversaries have to keep their nuclear arsenal on a hair-trigger alert. The risks of a nuclear accident are enormous.  The US has pushed the doomsday clock to 2 minutes until Armageddon.

North Korea is not paranoid to fear the US and prepare its defenses accordingly.  North Korea is well aware of the US’s use of total warfare against its adversaries. Total warfare means that nobody including the enemy’s civilian population is off limits, and that nothing, including civilian infrastructure is exempt from destruction.  Total warfare also means that international laws, treaties and the norms of civilized warfare do not restrain the US.  North Korea was a victim of US total warfare in the 1950’s.  It wants to avoid a repeat of that war by having a credible deterrent for self-defense.

Most Americans are unaware of the war crimes that the US committed during the Korean War, but almost every Korean knows, in both the North and the South.  On rare occasions a mainstream media outlet such as The Washington Post will have an article such as “The U.S. War Crime North Korea won’t Forget”.  More often the alternative media is the best source of historical truth.  Jay Jason has written an excellent article on US war crimes:  “Negotiations? Third World Nations be Aware! Americans Napalmed and Bombed Out All 38 North Korean Cities!”.

The US bombed Korea with 635,000 tons of high explosive. The US perfected napalm during the Korean War and dropped 32,500 tons of it on Korea.  When the US eventually ran out of targets it bombed North Korea’s irrigation dams, which flooded croplands causing mass starvation of civilians.

The US used germ warfare against North Korea and China.  The U.S. dropped insect and animal vectors with black plague, smallpox, cholera, encephalitis, anthrax and other deadly diseases.  Dave Chaddock wrote an excellently researched book on the subject:  “This Must Be the Place:  How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since”. David Swanson interviewed Dave Chaddock on Talk Nation Radio. Jeff Brown, author of “China Rising, Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destination” has created an online library for researchers of US biological warfare:  Bioweapon Truth Commission Global Online Library.

The definitive work proving that the US used germ warfare in Korea is the 1999 book by Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman:  “The United States and Biological Warfare, Secrets of the Early Cold War and Korea”. It was the captured pilots’ confessions of participating in germ warfare that led the CIA to come up with the ludicrous fiction of U.S. prisoners being brainwashed.  Brainwashing is a myth, but it was popularized by US propaganda and the Hollywood film “The Manchurian Candidate” in order to cover up US germ warfare.

Some in the CIA must not have gotten the memorandum that brainwashing was a fiction.  From 1953 to 1973 the CIA launched a secret human experiment program on mind control, named MK-Ultra. Some of the experimental participants volunteered, and others where experimented on without their permission. The CIA used everything from torture, electric shock treatment and drugs to try and reproduce the alleged brainwashing of Korean War prisoners.  It never succeeded, and often the results were tragic.  CIA scientist Frank Olson fell or was pushed from a New York hotel window after he unknowingly took LSD in a CIA experiment.

The mainstream propaganda media keeps screaming that North Korea cannot be trusted to keep its word.  Yet it was the US that violated the 1953 Korean War armistice agreement by nuclearizing the Korean peninsula.  In 1957 President Dwight D. Eisenhower equipped US forces in Korea with“dual capability (nuclear) weapons, such as the Honest John and the 280 mm. cannon“, in violation of section 13 (d).  The US had at least 950 nuclear weapons in South Korea until President George H. W. Bush said that he withdrew them in 1991. The US still has plenty of nuclear weapons in the air and on the sea that it constantly uses to threaten North Korea.

Photo:  Honest John Tactical Nuclear Missile, Wikipedia

During the Korean War General Douglas MacArthur wanted to use 30 nukes on North Korea and China.  President Truman fired him, but not because MacArthur wanted to use nukes.  Truman wanted a “responsible” general in charge of nuking North Korea and China. Truman preauthorized MacArthur’s replacement, General Matthew Ridgeway, to use nuclear bombs at his discretion.  Ridgeway avoided World War Three by not using them, although Truman had sent him nuclear bombs to Okinawa for that purpose.

It was Truman that used atomic bombs on Japan for the sole reason of demonstrating US power to Joseph Stalin.  Truman divided Korea in 1945 so that the US could establish a colony in the South. Truman intervened in the Korean Civil War beforethe United Nations authorized it, and he publicly threatened to use the atomic bomb in the Korean War.  Truman startedthe Cold War with his 1947 Truman Doctrine, which would later nearly result in the destruction of the planet in a nuclear holocaust.

Fast forward to the 1990’s.  The Soviet Union collapses and there is a pause in the Cold War.  North Korea has lost Russia as its most important sources of foreign aid and one of its major markets for exports.  Between 1994 and 1998 North Korea is hit with a series of draughts and floods.  The combinations of crop failures and the loss of Russian aid created famines and starvation in North Korea.  The US propaganda accuses North Korea of starving its people “in order to stay in power”, while the US is imposing economic sanctions that causes more starvation. US intelligence agencies predicted that North Korea would soon collapse because of the sanctions.  But the US had an immediate concern with North Korea’s nuclear program.

The Clinton administration had a very tense confrontation with North Korea in 1994 over North Korea’s nuclear program, much like the “fire and fury” of 2017.  The US accused North Korea of working on nuclear weapons. North Korea has to import almost all of its oil and claimed that it was developing nuclear power for electricity. North Korea has a legal right to nuclear reactors just as Japan, South Korea and every other country have.  War was averted when North Korea and the Clinton administration negotiated an agreement called the Agreed Framework.

Under the Agreed Framework North Korea agreed not to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, open itself to extensive IAEA inspection and to freeze its nuclear program.  In return the Clinton administration promised to compensate North Korea with the delivery of oil for electric generation and the construction of two light water nuclear reactors, which produce electricity but not weapons grade plutonium.  The US also agreed to the suspension of military exercises, and the normalization of diplomatic relations.  If the Agreed Framework sounds familiar, it should.  It is now where we are heading after the Kim Jong-un and Trump summit in Singapore.

What went wrong with the Agreed Framework?  First, Clinton came under heavy criticism by Republicans and hardliners.  They accused him of appeasement and caving in to blackmail. Clinton responded that the US would never have to deliver on its promises, because North Korea was on the verge of an economic disintegration of its regime.  The US dragged its feet on the delivery of oil to North Korea and delayed the construction of the promised light water reactors.

Second, the US Congress refused to fund the US obligations under the Agreed Framework. Congress also refused to lift the economic sanctions against North Korea.  North Korea responded that it would withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and resume its nuclear program if the US did not fulfill its obligation.  Clinton could not keep his promise even if he wanted to, just as Trump may not be able to keep any of his promises to North Korea.

The final breakdown of the Agreed Framework came in 2002 when President George W. Bush declared that North Korea was an Axis of Evil.  He accused North Korea of secretly working on a nuclear bomb in violation of the Agreed Framework and stopped the delivery of oil and the construction of the two light water nuclear reactors.  In response North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and began working on its nuclear program, which it had every right to do under international law.


The US has been threatening the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with nuclear weapons, conventional weapons and financial weapons of mass destruction since 1953.  It is a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for a nuclear power country to threaten a non-nuclear power country.   North Korea had a legal right to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty because of US threats.  North Korea developed nuclear weapons and ICBM’s for self-defense against the US and its colony South Korea.  North Korea is not in violation of international law by having nuclear weapons and missiles.

The US has threatened North Korea with “fire and furry” if it does not denuclearize.  To avoid an attack by the US, North Korea offered to negotiate its denuclearization in return for promises by the US of non-aggression.

North Korea can never trust promises of the US. What one president agrees to another can take away, just as Trump violated Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal and Bush reneged on the Agreed Framework of 1994. Trump also reversed Obama’s opening with Cuba.

The US has a long history of breaking treaties and violating international law. The US invaded Afghanistan with flimsy evidence that Afghanistan was harboring terrorists that were responsible for the attacks on the US of September 11, 2001.

Afghanistan had agreed to cooperate with the US if the US would provide it with evidence that Osama bin Laden was responsible for 9-11. The US refused and invaded Afghanistan anyway.

The US invaded Iraq based on known lies that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, when he did not. The U.S. has committed military aggression against at least 23 countries in the past 30 years.

The US abused the UN authorized mission of the “right to protect” civilians in Libya. Libya had a high standard of development until the US and its coalition destroyed the country and caused the assassination of its leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The US then purloined Libya’s arsenal of weapons and shipped them by a CIA rat line to Syria to overthrow the legal government of Bashar al-Assad. The US covertly backed terrorists in Syria in 2011 and is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians. The US now is openly invading Syria and flouts the UN Charter and international law.

The US has declared that Venezuela is a threat to the national security of the US. It is such a ridiculous charge that Obama could not keep a straight face when he made the declaration in 2015. Obama mumbled that his true motivation was that Venezuela was not “democratic enough”.

The real reason for US sanctions against Venezuela is that it is a socialist country that nationalized its oil for the benefit of the Venezuelan people. The US was caught red handed in a 2002 failed coup d’etat against the democratically elected Hugo Chavez. The coup failed because the people of Venezuela rose up against the coup plotters.  The US is nowopenly calling for another military coup in Venezuela and is funding anti-democratic opposition groups.

General Wesley Clark has publicly stated that a high ranking officer in the Pentagon told him shortly after 9-11 that the US planned to “take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran”.

After 17 years the US has not changed its plans. Once a country gets on the US list to “take-out” it can never get off; the US is relentless even if it takes years or decades.

Countries that nationalize their natural resources or keep out US capital are on the list for regime change. Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, Iran and North Korea are at the top of the list.

In his 2002 “Axis of Evil” speech George W. Bush put North Korea 8thon the list that General Wesley Clark spoke about. The US is just biding its time. First it plans to take-out Iran. Then it will try to “finish off” with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

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  1. vlade

    When I read this “Tales of North Korean human rights abuses are not based on facts” I stopped reading, as I try to avioid reading propaganda.

    I knew in person, a few people who lived in the NK. Either North Koreans (there were a few studying in the former Soviet block), and one person from a Soviet block who studied there (in fact, she went there twice, for different lengths of time, both times it was a significant time). To some I talked well before you’d say “but they told you so because that’s what West expects to hear” – because at that time, it was still part of the Soviet block, and even to those there the situation was appaling.

    NK is full of human rights abuses (hell, a regimes one would expect to do better are full of human rights abuses. Why should dictators be any better?). Kim’s dynasty has one interest – keep itself in power. It will do whatever it feels like doing, and it’s not really bound by any laws except its will.

    There’s a good case to be made for countries not trusting US. But there’s a good case to be made not to trust anyone TBH.

    The major problem with US here is that it made these tinpot dictators feel they need nukes to be safe (when usually they would collapse internally in generation or two) from the US. Trump dealing with NK only confirms it, which gets more tinpot dictators to go for nukes. Which means that sooner or later someone will use them, as when the dictatorships will topple (not necessary for democracy, but for a different dictatorship), someday, a nuke will go awol, and someday someone will use it somewhere. And that’s what is the long-term consequences of the US thinking it can act unilaterally and say/do whatever it likes.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, an otherwise good rant was spoiled by that for me. I’m perfectly willing to accept that there have been exaggerations about the extent of repression in the DPRK, but there can’t be any reasonable question that it is one of, if not the, most repressive countries on earth. I know someone who worked for an NGO there in the late 1990’s and had a reasonable amount of freedom to move around (always with a military minder of course) and he said that while the condition of people was nowhere near as bad as you’d believe from the western media, the general sense of fear was palpable. But its also true to say that the same could be said for South Korea up to the 1980’s.

      But as you say, the core point is correct that consistent inconsistencies by the US in its treatment of other countries is not just unethical, its stupid long term strategy which will one day result in payback. Every strategic thinker from Sun Tzu to Machiavelli onwards agree on this one point. All powerful countries must be respected to achieve their aims, and nobody respects bullies with personality disorders.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Agreed. I met a DPRK refugee who escaped from the Yodok prison camp and made it to China. It was obvious from his manner and the physical effects on his body that this was a man who had been through horrible torture. He made it clear that his experience wasn’t the worst that he knew of.

      His (rather mild in my view) recommendation was to continually embarrass the DPRK by protesting at its embassies and consulates. Perhaps that’s a recommendation that could apply for other human rights violators?

      1. Thuto

        “Perhaps that’s a recommendation that could apply for other human rights violators”.

        Agreed, as long as the list of violators includes the likes of US (especially US), France, UK etc who’ve appointed themselves judge, jury and executioner in executing their “moral duty” to deliver extrajudicial justice to those who are deemed to have stepped out of line.

      2. Bugs Bunny

        Just a codicil in light of Yves’ comments below. Of course the US et al. have tortured people and the US has a working concentration camp (Guantanamo). I don’t dismiss the author’s arguments. It’s just that the DPRK’s human rights violations are not simply an instrument of Western propaganda, they’re also a disgrace to humanity. I don’t see the equivalent in Western regimes. Yet.

    3. Linda Amick

      This article seeks to get readers to understand and take responsibility for the fact that the US has engaged in horrific actions since its inception. Until we Americans take responsibility for our history we can never change the future. Deflecting from this by a refusal to accept the article’s content on the basis of a criticism of the “other side” is to try and negate the truth of our history.

      1. vlade

        Did you read my comment? Including the third paragraph? Like “hell, a regimes one would expect to do better are full of human rights abuses. Why should dictators be any better?” And then the last para?

        The sentence in the article I pointed out is a very blantant lie. For me, that makes the rest of the article is suspicous, as there is no need to lie to take apart US role in the current (not great) shape of the world.

        Anyone who feels they must lie, or who take lies on a face value and propagates it, is in my book suspicious. Especially when they feel like they have to defend a horrendous regimes (I could take issue with the description of Lybia as African paradise, again, from people who lived there under Kadaffi, but that would be more involved) to make their point.

        See todays links how Bell Pottinger poisoned a valid point in South Africa.

      2. Anarcissie

        It would be hard to find a powerful state which does not commit all sorts of abuses. That has more to do with the intrinsic nature of the State and of power than with the history of particular nations. No, North Korea cannot trust the US, neither can it trust any other state or state-like party. The same is true of any other power large enough to act with impunity. As Lord Acton famously said, ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ There is no reason to expect the United States to be exempt from this seeming law of nature except when it is limited by countervailing power. It is naive to publish a long moralistic screed to express what can be said so succinctly.

        1. Anon

          I didn’t find the article moralistic. Americans, mostly, don’t taken kindly to having their dirty history put on the line to dry.

          1. Anarcissie

            Actually, going by what I read, a lot of American do like to dig up and display their dirty history. A Canadian once complained to me in response to some rant of mine about egregious American state crimes, ‘You Americans not only like to think you’re better than everyone else, you also like to think you’re worse than everyone else, too. You always have to be the biggest big deal.’

    4. Sid Finster

      The author is almost certainly wrong about North Korean human rights abuses, but being wrong about something doesn’t make the article propaganda.

    5. TimmyB

      That quibble over one sentence, taken out of context, is not well taken. The paragraph in question starts with the sentence “Human rights in North Korea is a red-herring, which the U.S. propaganda mills keep bringing out.” Those are statements of fact. The point is that the US government does not care on bit about human rights. Instead, it uses accusations of human rights abuses against its enemies because such accusations have propaganda value at home and abroad.

      Moreover, the US government shields similar or worse human rights violators from any sanction merely because those governments are friendly to US interests. The US feigned interest in human rights is like Hugh Hefner claiming to be part of the “Me Too” movement. It’s so obviously hypocritical and self-serving it’s laughable. Well, laughable except we have used “human rights” as an excuse to justify our slaughter of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent men, women, and children all around the world.

      While I have little doubt that North Korea is a repressive regime, I also have little doubt that the US exaggerates those abuses for propaganda purposes same as the article claims. If that one sentence spoiled this fine article for you, then you have missed the forrest by focusing in on a single tree. The simple truth is that the US has killed millions of people for little reason, except lies, in my life time. And North Korea has not.

  2. The Rev Kev

    Unfortunately, for several reasons, this review of recent history rings all too true. Sure North Korea is a brutal country. But then again, how many countries can we name that have been subjected to the total destruction mentioned – including being subject to biological warfare? Even Japan in WW2 was never hit as hard as North Korea. It tends to malform how a country behaves afterwards I would reckon.
    The trouble with North Korea denuclearizing in exchange for a lifting of sanctions is the time span. If North Korea sought to restart its nuclear program, it would take years to do and they may never be given the opportunity to do it again. If the US decided to reintroduce sanctions, it would take only a day or so. Take a look at Iran. They signed onto an agreement with the US in exchange for lifting sanctions but when it was all finished, the US set up new sanctions and have been ramping them up ever since.
    It’s all a matter of trust here. I am reminded of what the late Stephen Covey of 7 Habits fame wrote once. He said that it is hard to talk your way out of a situation that you behaved your way into and I think that it is true of this situation. Who knew that not being trustworthy carried with it penalties?

    1. Anon

      “Even Japan in WW2 was never hit as hard as North Korea.”

      I think the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki may disagree.

          1. Dirk77

            I wish I had more time to read. I will put it on my list and hope I get to it. Thanks.

  3. Harvey Battabong

    I confess to stopping at the title of this article. Does anyone trust the USA on any level since, well, my lifetime?

  4. jefemt

    Perpetual war: hit as many hornets nests as you can…

    Make sure a few are sitting on top of strategic resources– remember– if it wasn’t grown, it was mined.

  5. Expat

    okay, the author perhaps got carried away with the human rights commentary, but, that said, where is the documentary proof? It’s hearsay. It appears to be true, but there are no photos or first-hand reports from reliable sources. I find it childish and Trumpian to throw out the entire article because you take exception to the author’s use of legalese and language.

    If you are so concerned about human rights, why not protest the greatest mass murderer and abuser of human rights in the world, America? America has slaughtered millions through its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere. The US supports the worst dictators and has condoned and assisted in genocide and mass murder in the name of democracy and capitalism.

    If I were North Korean, I would want nukes. I might not want the Kim’s in power, but I would want nukes. Americans love to trot out “Better dead than red,” so why can’t Koreans say “Better free than an ignorant, enslaved pawn in the American Empire?”

    1. rd

      Nukes are a three-way tool for NK. The biggest threats to the Kim regime are probably China and Russia. Nukes pointed at Beijing and Moscow are likely to make it less likely for those countries to organize a coup to try to take out the Kims. Neither of those countries would like to be publicly threatened with nukes, but Kim has made them aware of his capabilities through yelling at the US.

  6. Thuto

    The US wants to continue delivering the sting of geopolitical duplicity to unsuspecting nations without interruption by something as mundane as facts. That’s why it seeks a monopoly on generating propaganda. Some might say the author of this post lays it on a bit too thick by airbrushing NK human rights record out of existence, but to switch off because of that misses the larger point and throws the baby out with the bath water. The biggest threat to world peace is the US after all, I don’t think any credible argument can be made against this.

  7. tc10021

    Just to be clear, the writer is not a member of Glorious Propaganda Writers, Local 13. But he may be a Junior High social studies teacher who reads Time magazine at the dentist office and has never left central NJ.

    Boris Nogoodnik
    Winner, Presidential Award for Insightful Propaganda, 1957, 1963

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Your comment is a violation of our written site Policies. And it’s not very funny. You could have Googled his bio, which includes:

      In 2016 David spent 10 weeks in Palestine with the Palestinian lead non-violent resistance group International Solidarity Movement. In February of 2015 he was part of a people-to-people delegation to Cuba with CodePink. In November of 2015 he was a delegate with CodePink to Palestine to show solidarity with Palestinians. David frequently makes people-to-people trips to Russia as a private citizen. David returned to Palestine for 10 days in March 2018.

      David has a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from the University of Maryland and attended classes at George Washington University for a degree as a Certified Financial Planner. He is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania program for a degree as a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA).

      David resides in Clearwater Beach, Florida. His hobbies include boating, fishing, RV’ing and motorcycle touring. He is also a licensed skydiver (USPA-inactive).

      His view on North Korea may have been influenced by the one-sided reporting in the US media on Palestine, where even peaceful protests are spun as if they were aggressions, and that biased him to overdiscount criticisms of North Korea.

      1. tc10021

        I have no need to read a site which posted that article.

        Based on your prior excellent articles and reputation, I was actually embarrassed for you. Goodbye.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          “The dogs bark and the caravan moves on.”

          We expect readers to be astute enough to read past author pet issues and sour notes without my pointing them out each and every time in an intro, although I do often do that anyhow. So yes, if you are incapable of doing that, you should read only sites that do a better job of spoon feeding you.

  8. Synoia

    The US empire appears founded on duplicity. “We respect your right to a democracy and independence, until we. the US, do not”

    Previous empires were more direct. “You are a colony. We rule”

    Hello “I’m the US ambassador, and I’m here to help you.”

  9. Eugene

    Now you’ve done it Yves, by posting this message, damn if you wont be included in that list of “you’re against us” B.S.

    There may be parts that some object too, but there’s also truth to be gleaned. To shut out those truths because some view otherwise, is short sighted to say the least.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      As Frederick Douglass wrote:

      So long as my voice can be heard on this or the other side of the Atlantic, I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.

        1. Tony Wright

          And in the case of the all pervasive military industrial complex, definitely wrong. As the albeit flawed article outlines.

      1. anon48

        Well said by FD… and you’ve certainly earned the right to quote him by your actions over the past ten years or so…This is a progressive site that allows for criticisms of progressive points of view on a regular basis, unlike most other print, social or television media. While I don’t always agree 100% with everything you write, your integrity is why I always come back.

        I appreciate thoughtful contrary comments made with regard to an article, such as those above, because those comments may help separate legitimate observations, from what may appear to be faulty logic, preconceived biases and/or incomplete or erroneously stated facts. So I believe that the process of allowing for/ providing thoughtful contrary comments, in the long run, actually helps identify and strengthen the progressive arguments that ultimately should be made.

        BTW- You should run a re-print of the article you posted many years ago about the need for those who wish to carry the banner for a particular cause, the importance of getting the facts straight and logic into alignment, prior to marching forth. Or else, run the risk of tarnishing the very same cause. (I know I didn’t paraphrase what you wrote very well, but hopefully you recall the article).

  10. David

    I made a longish comment some hours ago which has yet to emerge from moderation. But the twitter version would be that, whilst many of these criticisms are fair, there is little point in aping the liberal warmongers by just systematically inverting all of their arguments and judgements. I didn’t find the article very convincing for that reason, and I’m not sure it’s actually helpful.

  11. Waking Up

    From the link on the “Truman Doctrine”:

    On March 12, 1947, Truman appeared before a joint session of Congress to make his case. The world, he declared, faced a choice in the years to come. Nations could adopt a way of life “based upon the will of the majority” and governments that provided “guarantees of individual liberty” or they could face a way of life “based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority.” This latter regime, he indicated, relied upon “terror and oppression.”

    The United States is no longer a nation with a way of life “based upon the will of the majority” (see work by Thomas Piketty) and the government does not “guarantee individual liberty” (talk to black lives matter victims or whistle blowers or the many activists who protest the loss of individual liberty by various draconian laws). What we are now is a way of life “based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority” (corporations, billionaires, government & private intelligence agencies). That means we rely upon, in Truman’s words, “terror and oppression.”

    1. blennylips

      > What we are now is a way of life “based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority”

      Same mechanism for the ubiquity of kosher?

      Nassim Nicholas Taleb
      Aug 14, 2016
      The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority

      (Chapter from Skin in the Game)

      How Europe will eat Halal — Why you don’t have to smoke in the smoking section — Your food choices on the fall of the Saudi king –How to prevent a friend from working too hard –Omar Sharif ‘s conversion — How to make a market collapse

      So, inevitable for us hyper-social apes.

  12. David Pear

    I did not say in my article that there are no human rights abuses in DPRK. That would be ridiculous, as there are human rights abuses in every country, including the US and many Western countries.

    What I did say is that it is a “red herring” issue as the USA’s foreign policy is not determined on the basis of a country’s human rights. The USA uses human rights selectively and wildly exaggerates the abuses of countries that don’t fall in line with the US neoliberal agenda.

    However it is a writer’s responsibility to convey what he means and if readers misinterpret it, then the writer did a poor job of explaining the point. I will take responsibility for not having said that human rights abuses in North Korea are “highly” exaggerated and “largely” based on rumors bases on rumors.

    I go to great lengths to substantiate what I say in my articles. My statement about human rights abuses in North Korea being propaganda was linked to New Easter Outlook (NEO) article by Tony Cartalucci. NEO has a reputation of being an alternative media outlet of high integrity. Tony Cartalucci is also a highly respected author and journalist that has been published in many high quality publications besides NEO. However, my statement was not totally based on NEO, as I have read extensively about Korea and spent 3 weeks in South Korea talking with many Koreans and doing research.

    I agree with Cartalucci that most of the highly publicized human rights abuses of North Korea are wildly exaggerated rumors, much like the “Iraqi troops killing babies in incubators” leading up to the First Gulf War. I see many similar stories about North Korea, such as North Korean defector Grace Jo who came to the US as a child. The sensational part of her story was that she said she “battled starvation, ate mice to survive before escaping”. Her story is about the 1990’s which I spoke about in my articles. It was a period of starvation due to the loss of Soviet aid, droughts, floods and US sanctions.

    Whether Jo’s story is true or not I don’t know, but it is obviously being used to sensationalize how bad it is in North Korea. Most respectable news organization such as CBS will qualify their statements of human rights abuses with the word “alleged”.

    When South Korea pays North Korean defectors up to $860,000 it speaks volumes. Many defectors return to North Korea. Many want to return to North Korea, such as the story of Kim Ryon-hui in the Guardian, but South Korea will not permit it.

    The simple fact is that in the US we know very little about North Korea. I think the US likes it that way. I know from traveling elsewhere, such as Cuba, Russia and the Middle East, I have stopped being surprised when I find that they are nothing like the propaganda the US and mainstream media would have us believe. We need to get past the world view that the US would have us believe. It is not all black and white. North Korea is not some black hell hole. They actually care very much about their people.

    1. Matt

      “When South Korea pays North Korean defectors up to $860,000 it speaks volumes. Many defectors return to North Korea. Many want to return to North Korea, such as the story of Kim Ryon-hui in the Guardian, but South Korea will not permit it.”

      There are tens of thousands of defectors that have left North Korea. Many want to return? How many?

      “North Korea is not some black hell hole. They actually care very much about their people.”

      Is this a joke? There are reams of testimony from defectors that tell consistent and similar horror stories of brutality and oppression. Concentration camps have been mapped from satellite photos. Entire families can arrested can be arrested for the transgressions of one. Even those that want to return don’t deny that life is hard in the country.

      1. Alex morfesis

        Entire families can be arrested for the transgressions of one…was that a comment on North Korea or life in the American gulag ?

        1dumbsun imagines himself the enlightened being who will bring back the greater glory of historical Korea…

        as captain midnight in syria and his alevi magicians await the return of
        ya-zues to visit John the Baptist in Damascus at Umayyad…

        Illusions and conclusions…

        Life in omerika is fine if your ambition in life is to hoist a beer at will and enjoy the motto…

        better you than me…

        If the legacy media faked actual work instead of cutting and pasting press releases with a sprinkle of comments from the usual approved oppositionistas, “reports” of the “horrific” conditions in North Korea might…might…be credible…

        But after a while, intelligent and aware omerikanz tend to read the legacy media for (family blog) & giggles or as a trip down memory lane as a substitute for some sci-fi type comic book of our youth…

        There will soon be peace in Korea as there are over 70 flavors of theatres of operations currently in play across the globe…

        North Korea, Libya, Syria and Cuba have served their purposes…

        Onto some new and improved theatres and some imagined opposing forces…

        gotta love the modern day images of sisi/duh-ehsh where they are presented as some tough mean hombres…

        And yet…have never seen a picture or set of images with more than 100 of them in one place…

        strange that…

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