|Asia News Digest
Cheney's Latest Scare Story: North Korea Missile Test
The U.S. Defense Department announced June 20 that its unproven "missile defense system" is being readied for use against a North Korean missile test which may not happen. Lyndon LaRouche commented that the entire affair smells of a manufactured crisis, intended only to feed Dick Cheney's "perpetual warfare" doctrine. The South Korean government has noted that the open-air preparation of a missile for launch in the North indicates that it is intended to be a satellite launch, not a ballistic missile test. Neo-con U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Alexander Vershbow said that it doesn't matter whether it is a satellite: "The view of the U.S. government is that this missile has a military capability," and that a launch will be a "serious matter."
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld then told the press that the President "would make a decision with respect to the nature of the launch, and whether it was threatening the territory of the United States or not," but that the U.S. is prepared to shoot down the North Korean missile. He later admitted that, as the South Korean Defense Minister stated, they don't know how long it would take the North Koreans to get ready for a test, or whether or not a test is "imminent."
Other dubious commentaries include that of Joe Cirincione in Think Progress June 23, who wrote, "The Bush Administration has responded to a North Korean missile that doesn't work, by activating an anti-missile system that doesn't work. Cirincione added, "The interceptors the administration has placed in silos in Alaska have never been realistically tested, and are known to have serious operational problems. They have as much chance of hitting an incoming missile as a kid with a slingshot. Fortunately, the missile the North Koreans may test does not work either. The last time they fired a long-range missile was in 1998it went about 1300 kilometers and failed to put its tiny payload into orbit. The North Korean test is a political stunt designed to grab some attention. The same can be said of the decision to activate the Alaska site."
It should be remembered that Lyndon LaRouche's proposal for an anti-missile system based on new physical principles, announced as U.S. policy by President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983, as the Strategic Defense Initiative, was crushed by the same Shultz crowd now trying to start a war with North Korea with a non-functioning missile defense system.
Ex-Defense Secretary Calls for Strike on NK Missile Site
Former Secretary of Defense William Perry called for a preemptive strike on the North Korea missile site. Perry, President Bill Clinton's Defense Secretary in 1994, and former Assistant Secretary Ashton Carter, penned a joint op-ed in the Washington Post called "Strike and Destroy," arguing that "North Korea cannot be allowed to test this missile." It would be a "prudent policy," they wrote, to take out the missile site now, with a cruise missile, as was done with Zarqawi. Although North Korea is unlikely to go to war over the attack, they muse, the U.S. should "introduce air and naval forces into the region at the same time it made its threat to strike," to make any subsequent war "swifter and less costly in lives."
Perry was Secretary of Defense during the 1994 crisis over North Korea, and promoted a policy of preemptive attack on their nuclear facilities. The threat of war was avoided at the last minute, in part due to an intervention by former President Jimmy Carter, who travelled to the region and struck a deal with the North which President Clinton accepted.
Dick Cheney, asked about Perry's article in a CNN interview June 22, said, "I appreciate Bill's advice," but that the Administration is addressing the issue "appropriately." Cheney added that if an attack is to be launched, "you better be prepared to not fire just one shot."
Former NK Envoy to War Hawks: 'Forget the Chest Thumping'
Jack Pritchard, former U.S. special envoy to North Korea, denounced the call for a military attack on the North's missile site, issued by former Clinton Defense Secretary William Perry. Pritchard was forced to resign in 2003, when he insisted on talking to the North Koreans. His response, in a Washington Post op-ed June 23, says that Perry and the war hawks had better "give our chest-thumping, feel-good opinions a rest." He notes that the potential missile test "is not a violation of anything more than our pride, ripping a gaping hole in the false logic that talking with the North Koreans somehow rewards and empowers them." He explains that the moratorium on missile testing of 1999 "specified that North Korea would not launch a long-range missile of any kind while talks about its missile program were going on between Washington and Pyongyang." The North even extended the moratorium unilaterally in 2002, but in March 2005, with no talks going on, they announced they would no longer observe the moratorium.
Pritchard insists that talks begin immediatelysix-party, bilateral, or any other subset thereof.
South Korea, China Mediate Manufactured Missile Crisis
The government of South Korea announced June 23 that its Foreign Minister, Ban Ki-moon, will visit Beijing for two days, starting June 26, to try to cool down the flap over the supposed imminent test by North Korea of a long-range missile.
South Korea's Yonhap News reports that North Korea's deputy chief of mission at the United Nations, Han Song-ryol, said that while North Korea has a right to develop and test missiles, it would like to ease tensions over the situation through talks. "Our position is to solve this situation through discussions," Han was quoted as saying.
Yonhap also reports that North Korea experts in Seoul say that the North wants direct talks with the U.S. to resolve pending issues, which is being expressed in media reports and officials' comments in North Korea.
China Initiatives in South Africa, Middle East
China and South Africa signed 13 cooperation agreements, in political, economic, trade, defense and social fields in the context of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's visit there June 21. Itar-Tass reported June 22 that "among the discussed issues was cooperation in the sphere of peaceful use of atomic energy. Wen continues his Africa tour, with visits to Tanzania and Uganda.
China is also launching an initiative in the Middle East. The Foreign Ministry announced that special envoy Ambassador Sun Bigan will visit Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine between June 25 and July 2. China, ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said, is "very concerned about the situation in the Middle East," and that "relevant parties" in the region had conveyed their desire that Ambassador Sun visit the region.
Thai PM's Party Threatened with Dissolution
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai Party are threatened with dissolution, AFP reported June 23. The Thai Election Commission, although under a massive assault by the anti-Thaksin forces as supposedly being a rubber stamp for Thaksin, have now issued a ruling that Thaksin's party illegally paid minor parties to run in the April Presidential election. The election was boycotted by the main opposition parties, and the Thai Rak Thai supposedly recruited and paid the small parties to run in order to avoid a rule that a candidate in an otherwise uncontested election must gain 20% of the vote.
If the Election Commission ruling is taken to the Constitutional Court, which will be determined in this week, and Thaksin and his party are found guilty, the government and the party would have to be disbanded, and Thaksin may be forced out of politics for five years.