North Korea

Show Details for the week of September 25th, 2017

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Victor Wallis on Harvard rescinding Chelsea Manning’s visiting fellowship after CIA director cancels event calling Manning a “traitor”
  • Jon Schwarz on North Korea, how the media is covering the story and the things we are not being told

More about this week’s guests:

shapeimage_2Victor Wallis, is professor of liberal arts at Berklee College of Music (Boston) and managing editor of Socialism and Democracy. He is a member of the Harvard College class of 1959 and was among several Harvard graduates who presented a petition in Cambridge at the office of the Kennedy School’s dean, Douglas Elmendorf. The Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics cancelled the invitation to Manning after intense pressure from top CIA officials. The cancellation came shortly after the acting director of the Institute, Bill Delahunt, had publicly declared: “We welcome the breadth of thought-provoking viewpoints on race, gender, politics and the media.” The RootsAction petition presented on Friday says: “By revoking Chelsea Manning’s fellowship, you have disgraced the Harvard Kennedy School. By caving in to pressure from present and former top officials of the CIA, you have jettisoned academic freedom. By deciding that it is appropriate for Sean Spicer but not Chelsea Manning to retain a fellowship, you have failed to fulfill Harvard’s responsibility to be independent of government power and coercion. During his stint at the Trump White House, Mr. Spicer earned a reputation for lying. As a whistleblower, Ms. Manning earned a reputation for truth-telling. It is a sad day when a record of facile mendacity is more revered at Harvard than a record of revealing difficult truths.”

jon-schwarz_avatar_1429549467-350x350

Before joining First Look, Jon Schwarz worked for Michael Moore’s Dog Eat Dog Films and was Research Producer for Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story.” He’s contributed to many publications, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, and Slate, as well as NPR and “Saturday Night Live.”In 2003 he collected on a $1,000 bet that Iraq would have no weapons of mass destruction.

Recent articles on North Korea:

North Korea Says It Might Negotiate on Nuclear Weapons. But the Washington Post Isn’t Reporting That.

Undercover in North Korea: “All Paths Lead to Catastrophe”

 North Korea Keeps Saying it Might Give Up its Nuclear Weapons — But Most News Outlets Won’t Tell You That

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Show Details for the week of September 12th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Questioning the dominant narrative surrounding the “threat” posed by North Korea’s nuclear test – an interview with James Bradley
  • Demonizing and misunderstanding China – a previous interview with Henry Rosemont JR

More about this week’s guests:

iwa5James Bradley is a historical non-fiction author. His books include the bestsellers Flags of Our Fathers and Flyboys. His most recent book is The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia. He just wrote the piece “Whose Nukes to Worry About?” published on CounterPunch.

Quote: “North Korea carried out its fifth nuclear test on Friday, September 9. President Obama has condemned the action while the Pentagon called it a ‘serious provocation.’ Ho-hum, here we go again. Every year America pays its vassal-state South Korea huge sums of U.S. taxpayer money to mount 300,000-man-strong military ‘games’ that threaten North Korea. North Koreans view images that never seem to make it to U.S. kitchen tables: hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of U.S. armaments swarming in from the sea, hundreds of tanks and thousands of troops — their turrets and rifles pointed north — and nuclear-capable U.S. warplanes screaming overhead. But when a young dictator straight out of central casting responds to U.S. threats with an underground test on North Korea’s founding day, it’s the #1 story on the front page of the New York Times.

Let’s connect some dots. Washington and their note takers in the American press constantly tell us that crazies in Pyongyang and Tehran are nuclear threats. The misplaced, but easily sold, fears of the ‘North Korean missile threat’ and the ‘Iran missile threat’ allows the Pentagon to install ‘defensive’ missile systems in South Korea and the Ukraine which are actually offensive systems targeting Beijing and Moscow. We need to look beyond the simplistic, race-based cartoon-like scaremongering to see that far more reality-based and frightening is the nuclear threat posed by the United States.

President Obama — the Nobel Prize winner who pledged to lead a nuclear-free world — has committed over $1 trillion dollars to modernize America’s nuclear arsenal. Almost unreported by the press, we have been spending a bundle to make nukes ‘usable,’ by miniaturizing them. And to top it off, Obama has approved a ‘first use’ option for the U.S.”

headshotHenry Rosemont JR is distinguished professor emeritus at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and visiting scholar of religious studies at Brown University. He also spent three years in China as Fulbright Senior Lecturer at Fudan University in Shanghai.

Among his books are A Chinese Mirror, Rationality and Religious Experience, Is There A Universal Grammar of Religion? (with Huston Smith), and A Reader’s Companion to the Confucian Analects. He has edited and/or translated ten other books, including Leibniz: Writings on China (with Daniel Cook) and with Roger Ames, The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. His latest book is the recently released Against Individualism: A Confucian Rethinking of the Foundations of Morality, Politics, Family and Religion.

Quote: “As the state visit of President Xi Jinping draws nigh, his demonization at the hands of the media, many members of Congress and most of the presidential candidates will make it difficult for the Obama administration to suggest a much more cooperative than confrontational approach to U.S.-China relations. But brinksmanship with China is even more irrational than with Iran, for (at least) four reasons. First, it almost surely will not be effective. China cannot be bullied, and the U.S. has a far greater capacity to influence the country positively than negatively. Second, cooperation rather than confrontation — or even competition — would be in the best economic, military, social and environmental interests of both nations. Third, increased tensions and mutual distrust between the U.S. and China instead of close cooperation will eliminate what may well be the best option for providing a measure of global stability that neither the U. N., E.U., World Bank, I.M.F. or other international institutions seem capable of maintaining any longer on their own. And the 4th reason is the unthinkable: World War III, nuclear weapons and all.

Background: Bloomberg reports: “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wants President Barack Obama to cancel Chinese president Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit. Stealing some of his thunder, Florida Senator Marco Rubio swooped in and countered that it should be downgraded to a regular working visit.” CNN headlined a story last week: “Donald Trump: No state dinner — only Big Mac — for China’s president.”

The Huffington Post recently published excerpts of Rosemont’s  most recent book. See: “We All Think We’re Individuals. Here’s Why That’s Not True, And Why The Lie Is Told,” which states: “It is possible to challenge the libertarian on moral and political grounds, but not, I believe, if one accepts a foundational individualism as grounding ethics.”

See video of his talk at the China Studies center at Saint Vincent College.

In 2008, he co-wrote the piece “Is China a Threat?

Show Details for the week of December 29th, 2014

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On The Monitor this week:

  • In the wake of recent coverage of the multiple shooting deaths of mostly black males by mostly white police officers, we discuss Race Relations and Policing with Tim Wise
  • The media coverage of North Korea as a threat has missed that the country may be responding to being threatened. We discuss the recent coverage of North Korea framed by the release of the movie The Interview with Christine Hong

More about this week’s guests:

Tim Wise

Tim Wise is the author of six books, including his highly-acclaimed memoir, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, as well as Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority, and Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity. His next book, Culture of Cruelty: How America’s Elite Demonize the Poor, Valorize the Rich and Jeopardize the Future, will be released in early 2015. He has contributed chapters or essays to over 25 additional books and his writings are taught in colleges and universities across the nation. His essays have appeared on Alternet, Salon, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, The Root, Black Commentator, BK Nation and Z Magazine among others.

Tim Wise, whom scholar and philosopher Cornel West calls, “A vanilla brother in the tradition of (abolitionist) John Brown,” is among the nation’s most prominent antiracist essayists and educators. He has spent the past 20 years speaking to audiences in all 50 states, on over 1000 college and high school campuses, at hundreds of professional and academic conferences, and to community groups across the nation. He has also lectured internationally, in Canada and Bermuda, and has trained corporate, government, law enforcement and medical industry professionals on methods for dismantling racism in their institutions.

Wise has been featured in several documentaries, including “White Like Me: Race, Racism and White Privilege in America” (from the Media Education Foundation), which has been called “A phenomenal educational tool in the struggle against racism,” and “One of the best films made on the unfinished quest for racial justice,” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva of Duke University, and Robert Jensen of the University of Texas, respectively. He also appeared alongside legendary scholar and activist, Angela Davis, in the 2011 documentary, “Vocabulary of Change.” In this public dialogue between the two activists, Davis and Wise discussed the connections between issues of race, class, gender, sexuality and militarism, as well as inter-generational movement building and the prospects for social change.

 

Christine Hong

Christine Hong is an assistant professor of literature at UC Santa Cruz and an executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute (http://kpolicy.org/). She is co-editor with Hazel Smith of the Critical Asian Studies double issue on “Reframing North Korean Human Rights” (45:4 (2013) and 46:1 (2014). Hong recently co-wrote “Stranger than Fiction: The Interview and U.S. Regime-Change Policy Toward North Korea

Quote:Representations of North Korea as a buffoon, a menace, or both on the American big screen are at least as old and arguably as tired as the George W. Bush-era phrase, “the axis of evil.” Along with the figure of the Muslim “terrorist,” hackneyed Hollywood constructions of the “ronery” or diabolical Dr. Evil-like North Korean leader bent on world domination, the sinister race-bending North Korean spy, the robotic North Korean commando, and other post-Cold War Red/Yellow Peril bogeymen have functioned as go-to enemies for the commercial film industry’s geopolitical and racist fantasies. Explaining why the North Korean leader was the default choice for the villain in his 2014 regime-change comedy, The Interview, Seth Rogen has stated, “It’s not that controversial to label [North Korea] as bad. It’s as bad as it could be.” Indeed, one-dimensional caricatures of North Korea flourish in the Western media in no small part because “[w]acky dictators sell.” Yet when it comes to Hollywood’s North Korean regime-change narratives, the line between fact and fiction, not to mention the distinction between freedom of expression and government propaganda, is revealingly thin. Whether in Hollywood or Washington, the only permissible narrative for North Korea is what Donald Macintyre, former Seoul bureau chief for Time magazine, has called “the demonization script.” Not only have the dream machines of the entertainment industry long played an instrumental role within American theaters of war, but also, U.S. officials and political commentators often marshal the language of entertainment—for example, the description of U.S.-South Korea combined military exercises as “war games” and the Obama administration’s references to the Pentagon’s “playbook” with regard to North Korea—when describing U.S. military maneuvers on and around the Korean peninsula…Claiming to have done conducted “a lot” of research on North Korea, Seth Rogen has insisted that The Interview holds up a mirror to North Korea’s reality: “We didn’t make up anything. It’s all real.” His conclusion about North Korea after conducting exhaustive research? “It was f–king weird.” Yet, even as the curtains go up in movie theaters across the United States for The Interview, the centrality of the North Korean demon to Obama’s pivot policy within Asia and the Pacific, itself a historic theater of U.S. war, may prove to be far stranger than fiction.

Show Details for the week of July 28th, 2014

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KPFT is in its Summer Sizzle Fund Drive! The Monitor has a goal of $800 for this week’s show. Please call 713-526-5738 during the show to support The Monitor. You can also donate online here:

We have two guests on the show this week. First up is Raed Jarrar. We talk to him about the conflicting U.S. policy on Iraq and Syria where it looks like the U.S. is backing “both sides of same conflict.” The second interview is with Slavko Martinov. He describes himself as “Filmmaker. Writer. Subversive.” We talk with Slavko about his movie – Propaganda. You can pick up a copy of this movie for a pledge of $75. I have watched this movie and it is well worth your time and a pledge of support. Please call 713-526-5738 during the show to support The Monitor.

From the film’s website:

“Presented by an anonymous North Korean professor, this anti-Western propaganda film attacks the moral attenuation, political manipulation and hyper-consumerism that characterize the Western world. In chapters with titles like “Rewriting History,” “Advertising” and “The Cult of Celebrity,” we are treated to a lineup of the most embarrassing occidental excesses and globalization, the “psychological warfare” at the hands of multinationals, shopping-obsessed consumers and the failure of democracy. Then there’s time for the “Grab it!” culture of the one percent and additional moral deterioration in the form of Paris Hilton, unethical TV shows and violent movies and games. Toward the end of this propaganda piece, the role of North Korea in all of this becomes clear: the country would like to offer itself as headquarters for the mounting fight against consumer slavery and greed worldwide.

Propaganda is the world’s first propumentary. It was made by Slavko Martinov in Christchurch, New Zealand, with the help of friends who worked in secret for 9 years, with zero funding, through 2 major earthquakes, 10,000 aftershocks, accusations of North Korean collusion, an investigation by the South Korean government, an interview with the Counter-Terrorism Unit, and retaliation from the Catholic Church.

It topped Indiewire’s top 10 films to watch out for at IDFA 2012, where it had its world premiere. This was followed by The Independent declaring it ‘The real viral hit of 2012’ and Films for Action rated it their Number One film for 2012. In 2013, it was awarded a Special Mention at the Biografilm Festival in Italy, and this was followed by the US premiere at the Traverse City Film Festival, where Michael Moore awarded it the Founders Grand Prize for Best Picture.”

Please call 713-526-5738 during the show to support The Monitor. Get yourself a copy of Propaganda for a pledge of $75.

 

More about this week’s guests:

Raed Jarrar was born in Baghdad, the son of a Shiite mother and a Sunni father, and the oldest of three boys. He attended the University of Baghdad and began graduate school in Amman, Jordan, where he studied architecture, focusing on postwar reconstruction. He lived in Baghdad on and off under Saddam Hussein’s rule, and he experienced America’s ‘Shock and Awe’ campaign from the receiving end. After the invasion, Jarrar founded an NGO that did reconstruction work in Iraq. He worked as the country director for the first door-to-door survey of Iraqi civilian casualties conducted after the invasion. When the situation in Baghdad became unbearable, Jarrar emigrated to the U.S. and became a writer and peace activist. He translated the controversial Iraq oil law proposed by the Bush administration in 2007, and has consulted with several international humanitarian groups.”

You can follow Raed Jarrar (raedjarrar) on Twitter.

Quote: “The Obama administration requested hundreds of millions of dollars to support Syrian armed opposition groups, and other hundreds of millions to support the Iraqi government. Mainstream news coverage has overlooked the contradiction that U.S. aid is destined for opposing sides of the same conflict. In Syria, the Obama administration is arming opposition groups who support its anti-regime position — and in Iraq, the administration is taking a pro-regime position, funding and training the Iraqi government and its forces. Syrian, and now Iranian, jet fighters have been bombing targets in Iraq that have most likely been identified by U.S. intelligence. Sending more U.S. weapons and military personnel to Iraq is only complicating an already messy conflict.”

You can read a recent interview with Jarrar on “Moyers & Company”: “An Iraqi Perspective: How America’s Destruction of Iraqi Society Led to Today’s Chaos

moore and slavkoSlavko Martinov describes himself as “Filmmaker. Writer. Subversive.”

You can follow Slavko Martinov (slavkomartinov) on Twitter where he recently posted the following: “The propaganda methods used by Israel are by the book. Watch from 00:15: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJw_-6H-N1k …

From the London Progressive Journal:

Slavko Martinov http://slavkomartinov.com/ has spent nine years working on one of the most original documentaries to have ever been produced about the media and manufactured consent. Propaganda http://propagandafilm.net/ took centre stage in an international debate before it was even released. The film appeared on YouTube on 18 July 2012: it was presented as a film that North Korean opponents purloined and made public to let the West see how North Korea portrays and describes the consumerist society of the Capitalist world. The documentary is presented by an anonymous professor from North Korea who takes the viewers on an eye opening journey, showing the contradictions, the lies and the truth about the world we live in.

 

 

Show details for the week of May 27th, 2013

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On this Memorial Day weekend I will be reading a speech written by David Swanson and we revisit two recent interviews. The first was conducted with the theme of The Monitor‘s ongoing look at the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. It was with Sam Husseini. We talked to him about some of the myths that still form part of the public consciousness of the war and those responsible.

Our second guest is Christine Hong. She talked with Mark Bebawi about the Korean Peninsula and the ongoing tensions between North Korea and the US.

The aforementioned speech by David Swanson can be found in its entirety here.

More about our guests:

Sam Husseini

Sam Husseini is the Communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy

Quote: “It’s common to simply blame Bush and Cheney for the Iraq war, but it’s not accurate. Many voted for or otherwise backed the Iraq war — including Obama’s entire foreign policy team from Kerry to Hagel; from Clinton to Rice to Biden. Even among those who voted against the war, many facilitated it, like Pelosi, who claimed during the buildup to the Iraq invasion that ‘there was no question Iraq had chemical and biological agents.’ None of these individuals have ever seriously come clean about their conduct during this critical period (and I’ve questioned most of them) — so there’s never been a moment of reckoning for the greatest foreign policy disaster of this generation. The elevation of Democrats who did not seriously question the war likely facilitated Bush and Cheney never being held accountable for their conduct. “Persistent myths include that after the invasion, we learned that Bush deceived about Iraqi WMDs. In fact, it was clear before the war that the Bush administration was engaged, as an Institute for Public Accuracy news release headline put it the day before the bombing campaign started, in a ‘Pattern of Deceit.’ Some of these falsifications were brazen, like claiming the UN weapons inspectors were dissatisfied with Iraqi compliance, when they were saying Iraq was making progress and they wanted more time to complete their job. Bush’s deceptions were helped along by the fact that the Clinton administration had also deceitfully hyped Iraqi WMDs, maintained sanctions and a belligerent stance for nearly a decade — a pattern that the Obama administration seems to be repeating in many respects now with Iran and North Korea. Tragically, the peace movement, which took center stage with quasi-global protests on Feb. 15, 2003, went on to marginalize itself by focusing on Bush rather than building a serious global movement for peace and justice.” See FAIR’s 2007 report “Iraq: A Critical Timeline,” which documents much of the media drumbeat for war, as well as notable exceptions.

——————————————————————————–

Christine Hong

Christine Hong is an assistant professor of transnational Asian American, Korean diaspora, and critical Pacific Rim studies at University of California Santa Cruz.  She is a steering committee member of the Alliance of Scholars Concerned about Korea, a coordinating council member of the National Campaign to End the Korean War, and a member of the executive board of the Korea Policy Institute., Hong recently co-wrote “Lurching Towards War: A Post-Mortem on Strategic Patience

Quote: “The military exercises that the U.S. and South Korea just launched are not defensive exercises. As of last year, in the wake of Kim Jong Il’s death, they escalated in size, duration, and content, enacting regime change scenarios toward North Korea. The North Korean government continually refers to these war games as being extremely provocative. ”The Obama administration’s ‘strategic patience’ policy toward North Korea boils down to non-engagement at the same time that it implemented its forward-deployed ‘Asia pivot’ policy, which has the U.S. concentrating its military resources in East Asia. The goal is to contain China. In retrospect, Bush made more diplomatic overtures to North Korea than Obama. ”People in the U.S. need to understand that the 1953 armistice agreement called for talks to begin three months after its signing regarding the peaceful settlement of the Korean War and withdrawal of all foreign troops. Chinese troops left soon after. U.S. troops remain six decades later, and the Korean War has never ended. ”In Korean culture, 60 years represents one life cycle. We’ve had a full life cycle of war so Korean activists are dubbing 2013 “Year one of peace.”

Quote: “The military exercises that the U.S. and South Korea just launched are not defensive exercises. As of last year, in the wake of Kim Jong Il’s death, they escalated in size, duration, and content, enacting regime change scenarios toward North Korea. The North Korean government continually refers to these war games as being extremely provocative. ”The Obama administration’s ‘strategic patience’ policy toward North Korea boils down to non-engagement at the same time that it implemented its forward-deployed ‘Asia pivot’ policy, which has the U.S. concentrating its military resources in East Asia. The goal is to contain China. In retrospect, Bush made more diplomatic overtures to North Korea than Obama. ”People in the U.S. need to understand that the 1953 armistice agreement called for talks to begin three months after its signing regarding the peaceful settlement of the Korean War and withdrawal of all foreign troops. Chinese troops left soon after. U.S. troops remain six decades later, and the Korean War has never ended. ”In Korean culture, 60 years represents one life cycle. We’ve had a full life cycle of war so Korean activists are dubbing 2013 “Year one of peace.”

Show Details for the week of March 18th, 2013

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In keeping with The Monitor‘s ongoing look at the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, our first guest on this week’s show is Sam Husseini. We talk to him about some of the myths that still form part of the public consciousness of the war and those responsible.

Our second guest is Christine Hong. She talked with Mark Bebawi yesterday about the Korean Peninsula and the ongoing tensions between North Korea and the US.

More about our guests:

Sam Husseini

Sam Husseini is the Communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy

Quote: “It’s common to simply blame Bush and Cheney for the Iraq war, but it’s not accurate. Many voted for or otherwise backed the Iraq war — including Obama’s entire foreign policy team from Kerry to Hagel; from Clinton to Rice to Biden. Even among those who voted against the war, many facilitated it, like Pelosi, who claimed during the buildup to the Iraq invasion that ‘there was no question Iraq had chemical and biological agents.’ None of these individuals have ever seriously come clean about their conduct during this critical period (and I’ve questioned most of them) — so there’s never been a moment of reckoning for the greatest foreign policy disaster of this generation. The elevation of Democrats who did not seriously question the war likely facilitated Bush and Cheney never being held accountable for their conduct. “Persistent myths include that after the invasion, we learned that Bush deceived about Iraqi WMDs. In fact, it was clear before the war that the Bush administration was engaged, as an Institute for Public Accuracy news release headline put it the day before the bombing campaign started, in a ‘Pattern of Deceit.’ Some of these falsifications were brazen, like claiming the UN weapons inspectors were dissatisfied with Iraqi compliance, when they were saying Iraq was making progress and they wanted more time to complete their job. Bush’s deceptions were helped along by the fact that the Clinton administration had also deceitfully hyped Iraqi WMDs, maintained sanctions and a belligerent stance for nearly a decade — a pattern that the Obama administration seems to be repeating in many respects now with Iran and North Korea. Tragically, the peace movement, which took center stage with quasi-global protests on Feb. 15, 2003, went on to marginalize itself by focusing on Bush rather than building a serious global movement for peace and justice.” See FAIR’s 2007 report “Iraq: A Critical Timeline,” which documents much of the media drumbeat for war, as well as notable exceptions.

——————————————————————————–

Christine Hong

Christine Hong is an assistant professor of transnational Asian American, Korean diaspora, and critical Pacific Rim studies at University of California Santa Cruz.  She is a steering committee member of the Alliance of Scholars Concerned about Korea, a coordinating council member of the National Campaign to End the Korean War, and a member of the executive board of the Korea Policy Institute., Hong recently co-wrote “Lurching Towards War: A Post-Mortem on Strategic Patience

Quote: “The military exercises that the U.S. and South Korea just launched are not defensive exercises. As of last year, in the wake of Kim Jong Il’s death, they escalated in size, duration, and content, enacting regime change scenarios toward North Korea. The North Korean government continually refers to these war games as being extremely provocative. “The Obama administration’s ‘strategic patience’ policy toward North Korea boils down to non-engagement at the same time that it implemented its forward-deployed ‘Asia pivot’ policy, which has the U.S. concentrating its military resources in East Asia. The goal is to contain China. In retrospect, Bush made more diplomatic overtures to North Korea than Obama. “People in the U.S. need to understand that the 1953 armistice agreement called for talks to begin three months after its signing regarding the peaceful settlement of the Korean War and withdrawal of all foreign troops. Chinese troops left soon after. U.S. troops remain six decades later, and the Korean War has never ended. “In Korean culture, 60 years represents one life cycle. We’ve had a full life cycle of war so Korean activists are dubbing 2013 “Year one of peace.”