South Korea

Show Details for the week of September 12th, 2016

Posted on


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 December 21st, 2015

Posted on


On The Monitor this week:

  • We follow up on last week’s show with more news from South Korea with Wol-san Liem
  • Reconsidering the “radicalization” question with Graylan Hagler

More about this week’s guests:

Wol-san LiemWol-san Liem  is the Director of International Affairs,Korean Federation of Public Services and Transport Workers Union (KPTU), Korea, the KCTU affiliate organizing in public institutions and public and private transport.

Background: Thousands gathered in Seoul on December 5 to protest President Park Geun-hye’s proposed anti-worker labor market reforms, as well as her pursuit of new free trade agreements and plans for public schools to use a state-authored history book. Korean unions see the fight to stop the labor market reforms as critical to the future of the South Korean economy. The changes would make it easier for companies to fire workers and unilaterally restructure work conditions, as well as increase their use of temporary and sub-contracted labor, a situation faced by many workers around the world. For more see South Korea Targets Dissent, New York Times Editorial, November 19, 2015. Also South Korean Labor Strikes Back (Interview with KCTU President Han Sang-gyun) by Hyun Lee, Foreign Policy in Focus, November 12, 2015


8hhmqwffGraylan Hagler
 is with the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C. and chairperson of Faith Strategies. He just wrote the piece “When Were They Radicalized? That’s Not the Right Question!” — which states: “The big question these days dominating the airwaves is when was Syed Farook and Tasheen Malik radicalized; or who radicalized them; and how were they radicalized? This question is a perplexing one because it assumes that without outside influence everything would be all right and that there are no valid grievances, or anger, and no desire for revenge or justice no matter how misguided those desires might be manifested.
“This is a strange line of query because it presupposes that without external forces radicalization would be impossible. This line of questioning illustrates a blind patriotism of empire proportion that believes that anyone upset and acting out is either demented or have fallen under the influences of a political/religious ideology that exploits the weak minded or the mentally deranged. To even ask the question is to make the assumption that everything is OK around us and in our world and would be regarded as such if it were not for outside influences. But this perspective has a tendency to ignore the realities of what so many people live under and have to endure daily. It is often from personal experiences, relationships with those impacted by what most of us don’t see or care about are the radicalizing factors. The present queries act as if there are no valid grievances, no real anger, and as if there is innocence on the part of the powerful, the U.S. and others. But this is not the way that peoples of the Middle East, North Africa and Asia see the U.S. or the West.

“The U.S. and its partners have been at war for more than 14 years in Afghanistan. The U.S. began an unprovoked and preemptive war in Iraq in 2003 and virtually destroyed the country where today ISIL is filling part of the vacuum created by that war, and the President of Afghanistan literally is presiding over nothing but the capital city of that country, Kabul. The U.S. under the cry of removing President Bashar Hafez al-Assad in Syria by helping to orchestrate and sustain a civil war has created a displacement crisis of epic proportion and caused the deaths of more than 250,000 people. Conditions in many countries have worsened under the wars and the remaking of the Middle East and North Africa in the West’s image.” Similarly, Hagler writes: “Our continual military support of Israel against Palestinians challenges the view that everything is OK without the influences of ‘outside agitators’ radicalizing people and calling them to arms.”

Show Details for the week of December 14th, 2015

Posted on


On The Monitor this week:

  • Tim Shorrock on the South Korean Government Crackdown on Citizen Protests against Labor Repression, Destructive Rice Imports and Rewriting of History Books
  • 9/11 Whistleblower Coleen Rowley on Visas and Mideast War Root Causes

More about this week’s guests:

tim_shorrockTim Shorrock is Washington-based investigative journalist and author of SPIES FOR HIRE: The Secret World of Outsourced Intelligence. He is also a contributor to The Nation and longtime writer about Korean affairs and US-Korean political, military and economic ties. You can read his recent article “Raising a ruckus with the South Korean government” at the Nation website and his website.

Background:  South Korean President Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the country’s longtime dictator, has launched a massive crackdown on labor, farmer and citizens groups opposed to her government’s policies on unions, rice imports and education. President Park, one of President Obama’s closest allies in Asia, has also come under fire for recent comments she made likening protesters to the Islamic State (IS).  “Rallies where protesters wear face masks should be banned. Isn’t that how IS does it?  Hiding their faces…,” Park reportedly said at a recent Cabinet meeting to discuss new counterterrorism bills. The South Korean experience is far from unique.  With the deepening of corporate-led globalization processes, governments everywhere seek to weaken labor movements and worker protections and restrict options for public education and democratic debate.  As a consequence, the KCTU’s efforts to anchor a broad coalition of social forces around an alternative social vision deserves international attention and support.

coleen_rowleyColeen Rowley is a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures — was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002.

Quote: “Only a few crickets chirped after our 2014 Huffpost warning of gaps in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Our second post, however, came out at the same time the President and Congress had suddenly clicked into gear to tighten the program, obviously in reaction to the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.”
Rowley criticized the lack of politicians “lamenting his or her terrible mistakes in having okayed the various post 9-11 wars and bombing campaigns to re-make the Mideast — what some warned would be like ‘hitting a hornets’ nest’ and which have only succeeded in vastly increasing the number of terrorist incidents throughout the world, as well as more people everywhere who simply hate the U.S. …
“In its mad rush to push something out to look as if they were quickly remedying the problems, the House skipped normal debate that comes from holding committee meetings, passing its bizarre ‘Trump-lite’ blanket discriminatory provisions in H.R. 158, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015 [passed on Tuesday 407-19], that would bar citizens of participating countries with Syrian, Iraqi, Sudanese or Iranian ancestry from participating in the waiver program even if they have never set foot in any of these countries.
“A backlash naturally erupted from civil liberties and minority rights groups. For instance, according to the ACLU’s reading of the bill, a person who was born and raised in France but whose father is a Syrian citizen would be forced to get a visa before visiting the United States, even if that person has a French passport and has never been to Syria.
“In a press release Tuesday, NIAC [National Iranian American Council] Action, a group that lobbies on behalf of Iranian Americans, lashed out at the bill. …
“Even worse, in their hurry, is the congresspersons’ choice of the four specific countries to designate for ‘blanket’ exclusion: Iraq (which was supposed to be a democratic paradise by now), Syria, Sudan and (most bizarrely) Iran, whose nationals have not ever launched a terrorist attack inside the U.S. Yet, countries like SAUDI ARABIA (well known as the main country of origin for Al Qaeda, ISIS and other Wahhabi extremism), Pakistan, Yemen, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Nigeria, Chechnya and other nations and regions from where terrorist perpetrators have come from are not designated as ineligible for the program. This truly makes zero sense, making us wonder if congresspersons have any clue as to the nature of the threat from ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorism.”

Background: Rowley wrote to the FBI Director again in February 2003 with some hard questions about the reliability of the evidence being adduced to “justify” the impending invasion of Iraq. See “Coleen Rowley: Ten years after Iraq.”

Show details for the week of May 27th, 2013

Posted on Updated on


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 12th, 2012

Posted on Updated on


  • Last week saw celebration of International Women’s Day and women are leading protests in South Korea over the building of a naval base. CNN reported: “Tensions soared on the South Korean island of Jeju on Thursday as hundreds of residents, activists and priests protest against the building of a naval base. About 500 supporters of the project also arrived Thursday on the second day of key construction work.” Joining The Monitor to talk about this issue is Christine Ahn.

 

  • The second anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill is approaching. Last week we heard news of a settlement – BP has agreed to pay $7.8bn to settle claims from an estimated 110,000 people and businesses. Joining us to talk about the spill, the settlement and the ongoing issues in the gulf is Antonia Juhasz.

More about our guests:

Christina Ahn

Christine Ahn is Executive Director of the Korea Policy Institute and a policy analyst with expertise in Korea, globalization, militarism, women’s rights and philanthropy. She is the editor of Shafted: Free Trade and America’s Working Poor (Food First Books, 2003) and contributor to The Revolution Will Not be Funded (South End Press 2007). She has addressed Congress, the United Nations and the National Human Rights Commission in South Korea. You can follow her on Twitter.

——————————————————————————————

Antonia Juhasz

Antonia Juhasz is covering the historic trial against BP for The Nation with support from The Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. She is a leading oil and energy analyst and author of several books, including Black Tide: the Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill (Wiley, 2011). You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Recent Articles:

BP vs. Gulf Coast: It’s Not Settled Yet.

BP Oil Still Tars the Gulf.

—————————————————————————————