Despite evidence adding up otherwise, to no one’s surprise a joint “international” investigation by the US, UK, South Korea, Australia, Canada, and Sweden would later conclude that a North Korean submarine was the culprit, leaving even most South Koreans skeptical.
During this period of time, America’s position in Asia Pacific was already waning. Endless war in Central Asia and the Middle East, along with a deepening economic crisis in the West allowed other actors to begin eying the seemingly inevitable void soon to be left. Japan under then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, began reasserting itself over unpopular US military installations scattered throughout the nation. China was continuing to expand its economic and diplomatic influence in the region, luring in even America’s traditional allies like Australia and Thailand.
The sinking of the ROKS Cheonan then “serendipitously” served as a reminder as to why America claims their troops and influence are needed in the region for “peace and security.” The Korean Won tumbled as the US Dollar was temporarily bolstered and Japanese PM Hatoyama not only conceded to US demands regarding US installations, but would also resign over the matter. Literally citing the mysterious, still unsolved sinking of the Cheonan, Washington insisted its need to reassert itself in Asia to counter North Korea, if not for any other reason.
North Korea, either out of shadowy complicity or because of its paranoid predictable nature, became America’s greatest ally in many ways.
November 2010, a similar scenario played out after an artillery exchange between North and South Korea which claimed several lives. America was again bolstered in its highly tenuous position not only in Asia as a whole, but on the Korean Peninsula itself, having been rebuffed on the US-Korean FTA and facing the possibility of US banking interests meeting with Tobin taxes in Korean markets.
South Korean leadership now admits they were conducting joint US-Korean live fire exercises close to highly contested waters in the Yellow Sea before the exchange took place. North Korea maintains this incident was intentionally provoked, as was the sinking of the Cheonan, as contrived incidents of opportunity for the waning American empire to reassert itself.
And like the sinking of the Cheonan, America once again renewed the rhetorical lease on its presence in Asia Pacific.
America’s “Asia Pivot”
Fast forward to today, 2013, and the openly declared US policy entitled, the “pivot toward Asia.” Built upon the ultimate goal of encircling and containing China, it hinges on special interests cobbling Southeast Asia into a regional European Union-style bloc to then be used economically, politically, and militarily against China. In fact, in recent island disputes, this ASEAN bloc is already being tested out as a collective proxy to maintain US hegemony in Asia Pacific.
While the “pivot” appears to be “new” US foreign policy, it is deeply rooted in long-conspired hegemonic ambitions. As far back as 1997, America corporate-financier think-tanks had been documenting their intentions to pursue just such a containment policy with the expressed goal of maintaining American dominance across Asia Pacific. Neo-Con policy maker Robert Kagan penned a fairly insightful 1997 piece in the Weekly Standard titled, “What China Knows That We Don’t: The Case for a New Strategy of Containment,” where he discusses the prospects of an effective containment strategy coupled with the baited hook of luring China into its place amongst the “international order.”
In Kagan’s1997 piece, he literally states (emphasis added):
The present world order serves the needs of the United States and its allies, which constructed it. And it is poorly suited to the needs of a Chinese dictatorship trying to maintain power at home and increase its clout abroad. Chinese leaders chafe at the constraints on them and worry that they must change the rules of the international system before the international system changes them.
Here, Kagan openly admits that the “world order,” or the “international order,” is simply American-run global hegemony, dictated by US interests. These interests, it should be kept in mind, are not those of the American people, but of the immense corporate-financier interests of the Anglo-American establishment. Kagan continues (emphasis added):
In truth, the debate over whether we should or should not contain China is a bit silly. We are already containing China — not always consciously and not entirely successfully, but enough to annoy Chinese leaders and be an obstacle to their ambitions. When the Chinese used military maneuvers and ballistic-missile tests last March to intimidate Taiwanese voters, the United States responded by sending the Seventh Fleet. By this show of force, the U.S. demonstrated to Taiwan, Japan, and the rest of our Asian allies that our role as their defender in the region had not diminished as much as they might have feared. Thus, in response to a single Chinese exercise of muscle, the links of containment became visible and were tightened.
The new China hands insist that the United States needs to explain to the Chinese that its goal is merely, as [Robert] Zoellick writes, to avoid “the domination of East Asia by any power or group of powers hostile to the United States.” Our treaties with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, and Australia, and our naval and military forces in the region, aim only at regional stability, not aggressive encirclement.
But the Chinese understand U.S. interests perfectly well, perhaps better than we do. While they welcome the U.S. presence as a check on Japan, the nation they fear most, they can see clearly that America’s military and diplomatic efforts in the region severely limit their own ability to become the region’s hegemon. According to Thomas J. Christensen, who spent several months interviewing Chinese military and civilian government analysts, Chinese leaders worry that they will “play Gulliver to Southeast Asia’s Lilliputians, with the United States supplying the rope and stakes.”
Indeed, the United States blocks Chinese ambitions merely by supporting what we like to call “international norms” of behavior. Christensen points out that Chinese strategic thinkers consider “complaints about China’s violations of international norms” to be part of “an integrated Western strategy, led by Washington, to prevent China from becoming a great power.
What Kagan is talking about is maintaining American preeminence across all of Asia and producing a strategy of tension to divide and limit the power of any single player vis-a-vis Wall Street and London’s hegemony. Kagan would continue (emphasis added):
The changes in the external and internal behavior of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s resulted at least in part from an American strategy that might be called “integration through containment and pressure for change.”
Such a strategy needs to be applied to China today. As long as China maintains its present form of government, it cannot be peacefully integrated into the international order. For China’s current leaders, it is too risky to play by our rules — yet our unwillingness to force them to play by our rules is too risky for the health of the international order. The United States cannot and should not be willing to upset the international order in the mistaken belief that accommodation is the best way to avoid a confrontation with China.
We should hold the line instead and work for political change in Beijing. That means strengthening our military capabilities in the region, improving our security ties with friends and allies, and making clear that we will respond, with force if necessary, when China uses military intimidation or aggression to achieve its regional ambitions. It also means not trading with the Chinese military or doing business with firms the military owns or operates. And it means imposing stiff sanctions when we catch China engaging in nuclear proliferation.
A successful containment strategy will require increasing, not decreasing, our overall defense capabilities. Eyre Crowe warned in 1907 that “the more we talk of the necessity of economising on our armaments, the more firmly will the Germans believe that we are tiring of the struggle, and that they will win by going on.” Today, the perception of our military decline is already shaping Chinese calculations. In 1992, an internal Chinese government document said that America’s “strength is in relative decline and that there are limits to what it can do.” This perception needs to be dispelled as quickly as possible.
Clearly, however, this “perception” of US military decline has only been heightened as the Wall Street-London financier model of “economic growth” has been revealed as an untenable global Ponzi scheme versus the Chinese model of industrial production and infrastructure expansion. The military might required to contain China is also politically and economically unjustifiable, and increasingly so.
Image: From the Strategic Studies Institute’s 2006 “String of Pearls” report detailing a strategy of containment for China, the evolution of Kagan’s 1997 paper, and the strategic foundation for much of the engineered violence now unraveling along the “string of pearls” from Pakistan to Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia, to the islands of the South China Sea.
It appears possible that US policy makers committed to a losing strategy based on inaccurate interpretations and projections regarding the collapse of the Soviet Union and its comparison to the Chinese. US policy makers have led the populations of Western civilization down a dead-end in pursuit of global hegemony instead of one of domestic economic and technological progress, and now depend on a steady diet of contrived crises the West can then play a role in “stabilizing.”
Perpetuating and Harnessing North Korean Paranoia & Belligerence
A reverse in the West’s decline is unlikely especially when the prescription is more of the same uninspired, antiquated policies that created the decline in the first place. Cultivating animosity between Southeast Asia and China, as well as depending on the predictable belligerence of North Korea are two of the remaining tricks Wall Street and London have left to justify their continued presence in Asia – both of which serve only to destabilize the region and jeopardize the collective peace and prosperity of people all across Asia.
North Korea’s belligerence in particular, is directly proportional to the US’ meddling on the Korean Peninsula. It should be noted that the US State Department, starting in 2008, had been training North Korean “activists” alongside those who would take part in the US-engineered “Arab Spring.” In Foreign Policy’s 2011 article “Revolution U,” where the story of US-funded and trained “activism” is told, North Korean activists are mentioned several times as recipients of the same US State Department training used by proxies to help overthrow the governments of Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt – all three it should be mentioned are now brutal sectarian dictatorships bent in service to the IMF and Western interests, that make their excised predecessors look progressive in comparison.
To what extent these “activists” have sowed unrest inside North Korea upon their return is unknown – but it represents one of the many covert means the US can prod the North with to provoke what would appear to be otherwise “unprovoked” aggression.
Like ship sails to the wind, American foreign policy makers are outstretched and ready to harness North Korea’s belligerence, and in the case of the Cheonan’s sinking or the training of “activists” to return home and sow unrest, apparently blow on the sails themselves when the winds are calm. A reclusive hereditary communist dictatorship sounds scary, but those with no qualms utilizing such a dictatorship at the risk of regional or world war, are even scarier.
Worth repeating, was Donald Rumsfeld’s position on the board of directors of ABB out of Zurich, when the engineering firm sold North Korea the nuclear technology they later used as the basis of their nuclear arms program. Rumsfeld would then later, as Secretary of Defense in the ever revolving door between big business and corporate-fascist government, leverage the enhanced menace of North Korea against America’s supposed ally in the south.
This reality highlights that the stability America represents in Asia Pacific is not one of rule of law and healthy foreign diplomacy, but rather one of holding stability over the head of the region with the constant threat of unhinging peace through carefully arranged events, be it staging Maoist color revolutions in Bangkok, funding the Khmer Rouge, in 2010 training land grabbing troops in Cambodia, or repeatedly provoking an unstable military dictatorship on the Korean Peninsula.
The Key to Peace in Asia – Remove America’s Presence
If China, Japan, or South Korea can offer a substantial alternative focused on cooperation without the need to mercilessly strip national sovereignty and force integration politically and economically as the West’s ASEAN and AEC are poised to do, then the manipulative invasive nature of the Anglo-American banking elite and their already collapsing global order, no matter how much peace America manages or threatens to unhinge, will be all but expelled from the region.
The key to peace in Korea, and across greater Asia, is removing entirely and permanently the hegemonic influence of Wall Street and London. National governments can achieve this by cultivating a more independent, self-sufficient, inward-looking socioeconomic strategy that uses foreign trade more as a supplement for a strong, domestic economy. Individually, people across Asia need to recognize the special interests lurking behind the roll-out of ASEAN and the subsequent ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) – and how it represents in no way the interests of the people of Southeast Asia – and how it will lead to a protracted and destructive confrontation with China over many years to come.
The alleged opportunities ASEAN and AEC has promised, like those the European Union promised and promptly broke for millions of Europeans, can easily be replaced by more sustainable, local development – much of which is already present and expanding across Asia. The illusion of “Pax Americana” is one insidiously maintained by the Wall Street-London elite who both create the “problems” and then convenient “solutions” in an increasingly transparent regional racket akin to gangsters extorting protection money from local neighborhood shops. Asia outnumbers and overpowers the crumbling Wall Street-London international order many times over – now is the time they remove this manipulative regressive influence from their midst once and for all.