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“Sanctions on Iraq, Syria, Yemen, North Korea or Iran, are the economic equivalent of atom bombs”

Alex Anfruns interviews Stephen Gowans

On April 13, the US, UK and France launched an attack on Syria. The reason, backed by an enthusiastic mainstream media, was retaliation over an alleged chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta. We have interviewed Stephen Gowans to discuss this incident, US foreign policy in Syria, comparisons to foreign policy in Iraq, and the recent de-escalation in the Korean peninsula. Gowans is one of the most important voices when it comes to dissecting the war propaganda of the mainstream media. He is the author of Washington’s Long War on Syria (2017) and Patriots, Traitors and Empire – the Story of Korea’s Struggle for Freedom (2018).

Despite a lack of evidence, US, British and French governments have tried to legitimize the latest attack on Syria using the humanitarian approach. What has been the evolution on the ground in recent months and how can we understand those attacks?

The Western missile attacks were carried out ostensibly in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian Arab Army in Eastern Ghouta, an area Syrian forces were about to liberate, and soon thereafter did liberate. A few days prior to the alleged gas attack, US president Donald Trump had called for the exit of US troops from the nearly one-third of Syrian territory US forces occupy illegally.

The conditions on the ground—imminent victory in Eastern Ghouta and the prospect of US withdrawal from Syria—were highly favorable to the Syrian government. It is highly unlikely that Damascus would sabotage these auspicious developments by crossing a chemical weapons red-line that would trigger a US response.

On the other hand, from the perspective of Syria’s Islamist insurgents and high-level officials in the US departments of defense and state (who regard Trump’s withdrawal plans as ill-considered) there was much to recommend the fabrication of an incident, in order to scotch Trump’s troop withdrawal plans. This is not to say that this is what happened, but it’s a far more plausible scenario than one that depicts the Syrian government as acting against its interests.

Based on the reporting of The Independent’s Robert Fisk, a bombing attack in Eastern Ghouta had stirred up dust, which filled the basements and subterranean shelters in which civilians had retreated to escape. Choking on dust, and suffering from hypoxia, many fled to a nearby hospital. With cameras rolling, someone shouted “gas!” The scene, captured on video, resembled the aftermath of a gas attack.

Apart from the question of whether a gas attack occurred, is another, more important, question.

Imagine, if you will, that there was irrefutable evidence that the Syrian military, ignoring its own interests, did in fact use chemical weapons. Would this justify the US, British, French response? The answer, I think, is absolutely not. Hence, the question of whether chemical weapons were used is irrelevant to the question of whether the missile attack was justified.

The missile attack certainly had no legal basis. Neither of the countries that attacked Syria were acting in self-defense. They had no mandate from the Security Council. Even from the point of view of US law, the US contribution to the attack was illegal, since the US president has no legal authorization to wage war on the Syrian state. And while a humanitarian agenda may be invoked as a justification, there’s absolutely no evidence that the countries involved in the missile attack were inspired by humanitarian considerations; on the contrary, there’s plenty of evidence they weren’t.

The United States and its allies have very likely created more suffering in Syria than has been created by all the chemical weapons used in the country. They have done so through collateral civilian deaths related to their air war against ISIS and siege of Raqqa and through a devastating sanctions program that has lasted nearly two decades. This is to say nothing of the United States deliberately inflaming the long running civil war in Syria (which dates to the late 1940s) and keeping it going by financing the Islamist insurgency, both directly and through its allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel and Jordan.

If the United States and its allies were truly animated by humanitarian concerns, they wouldn’t be killing Syrians through their own bombs, through the disease and malnutrition caused by sanctions, and indirectly through the insurgents they support.

Finally, let’s consider a parallel. During Friday protests in Gaza leading up to the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, Israeli soldiers have killed scores of Palestinians and have wounded hundreds more, who have posed at best a trivial threat to Israel. Would China or Russia be justified in raining a barrage of missiles upon Tel Aviv in response?

Continues at Investig’Action

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Written by what's left

May 10, 2018 at 1:13 pm

Posted in north Korea, Syria

Patriots, Traitors & Empires

Written by what's left

May 4, 2018 at 1:19 am

Toronto May 16 Launch of Patriots, Traitors & Empires at A Different Booklist

WEDNESDAY MAY 16, 2018 7PM-9PM

A DIFFERENT BOOKLIST

779 BATHURST ST, TORONTO (@ Bloor)

Patriots, Traitors and Empires is an account of modern Korean history, written from the point of view of those who fought to free their country from the domination of foreign empires. It traces the history of Korea’s struggle for freedom from opposition to Japanese colonialism starting in 1905 to North Korea’s current efforts to deter the threat of invasion by the United States or anybody else by having nuclear weapons. Koreans have been fighting a civil war since 1932, when Kim Il Sung, founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, along with other Korean patriots, launched a guerrilla war against Japanese colonial domination. Other Koreans, traitors to the cause of Korea’s freedom, including a future South Korean president, joined the side of Japan’s Empire, becoming officers in the Japanese army or enlisting in the hated colonial police force. From early in the 20th century when Japan incorporated Korea into its burgeoning empire, Koreans have struggled against foreign domination, first by Japan then by the United States. Patriots, Traitors and Empires, The Story of Korea’s Struggle for Freedom is a much-needed antidote to the jingoist clamor spewing from all quarters whenever Korea is discussed.

DONATIONS WELCOME

Written by what's left

April 26, 2018 at 10:38 pm

Toronto Launch of Patriots, Traitors and Empires, Thursday, May 17

Thursday, May 17 at 7:00 PM
290 Danforth Ave. Toronto, ON M4K 1N6

Sponsored by People’s Voice, the Canadian Peace Congress and Toronto Association for Peace and Solidarity

https://www.facebook.com/events/169533123754101/

“In the night of our ignorance, North Korea confirms all stereotypes.”—Bruce Cumings

For more than a century, Koreans have fought to free their country from foreign empires, first Japan, then the US. Gowans tells the story from the point of view of view of those who fought for freedom: the anti-colonial guerrilla war, partition of Korea engineered by the US, conventional war (1950-53), current confrontation…

Patriots, Traitors and Empires is an account of modern Korean history, written from the point of view of those who fought to free Korea from the domination of foreign empires. It traces the history of Korea’s struggle for freedom from opposition to Japanese colonialism starting in 1905 to North Korea’s current efforts to deter the threat of invasion by the United States or anybody else by having nuclear weapons.

Koreans have been fighting a civil war since 1932, when Kim Il Sung, founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, along with other Korean patriots, launched a guerrilla war against Japanese colonial domination. Other Koreans, traitors to the cause of Korea’s freedom, including a future South Korean president, joined the side of Japan’s Empire, becoming officers in the Japanese army or enlisting in the hated colonial police force.

From early in the 20th century when Japan incorporated Korea into its burgeoning empire, Koreans have struggled against foreign domination, first by Japan then by the United States. Some protests were peaceful; others involved riots, insurrection and sustained guerrilla war. After the US engineered political partition of their country in 1945, the Koreans fought a conventional war, from 1950-1953. Three million gave their lives.

Examining the history of the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Gowans shows that it can be accurately qualified a “US puppet state” or even “a stationary US aircraft carrier.” Only when faced with virtually insurmountable military threat did the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) resort to nuclear weapons to ensure its defense.

Patriots, Traitors and Empires, The Story of Korea’s Struggle for Freedom is a much-needed antidote to the jingoist clamor spewing from all quarters whenever Korea is discussed.

Stephen Gowans is an independent political analyst whose principal interest is in who influences formulation of foreign policy in the United States. His writings, which appear on his What’s Left blog, have been reproduced widely in online and print media in many languages and have been cited in academic journals and other scholarly works. He is the author of the acclaimed Washington’s Long War on Syria (Baraka Books, 2017).

“It is always refreshing to read Stephen Gowans. … he does his homework and his writing is well-documented and far from the well-intentioned fluff that litter too many websites. He is careful to situate his subject within its context and he has a good eye for discerning what is important and what is of lesser consequence. These virtues are exemplified by his latest book… Stephen Gowans has written a marvellous and incisive study of modern Korea.” — Tim Beal, author of Crisis in Korea (Pluto Press, 2011).

Written by what's left

April 26, 2018 at 12:39 am

Hamilton Launch of Patriots, Traitors and Empires, Mon., May 14 & Tues., May 15

THE HAMILTON COALTION TO STOP THE WAR IS SPONSORING TWO BOOK LAUNCHES IN HAMILTON:

1) Monday, May 14, 2018, 7 pm, New Vision United Church, 24 Main Street West, L8P1H2

2) Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 12:20 pm, McMaster University, room to be announced

FREE ADMISSION TO BOTH EVENTS!

Stephen will deliver a lecture explaining how the current crisis came about and will outline a path to peace on the Korean Peninsula. Q&A to follow, plus selling and autographing of the new book which sells for $25.

New Vision United Church is located across from Hamilton City Hall. The church is wheelchair accessible and next door to the HSR’s MacNab Street Transit Terminal. There’s plenty of paid parking behind City Hall. All are welcome.

Written by what's left

April 26, 2018 at 12:26 am

Understanding Korea: Presentation & Launch – Stephen Gowans, 7/05/2018, Montréal

Baraka Books April 13, 2018

INVITATION

Livres Baraka vous invite à une conférence de Stephen Gowans et au lancement de son nouveau livre Patriots, Traitors and Empires, The Story of Korea’s Struggle for Freedom le lundi 7 mai à 19 h au Centre Saint-Pierre, Salle 200, 1212, rue Panet, à Montréal.

Depuis plus de 100 ans, les Coréens se battent pour libérer leur pays d’empires étrangers, d’abord le Japon, ensuite les États-Unis. Gowans raconte l’histoire du point de vue des Coréens épris de liberté : la guérilla anti-coloniale, la partition de la Corée par les États-Unis, la guerre classique (1950-53), la confrontation actuelle…

« Stephen Gowans nous offre une étude étonnante et percutante de la Corée moderne. » — Professeur Tim Beal, auteur de Crisis in Korea

***

Baraka Books invites you to a presentation by Stephen Gowans and the launch of his new book, Patriots, Traitors and Empires, The Story of Korea’s Struggle for Freedom, on Monday, May 7, at 7 pm at the Centre Saint-Pierre, Salle 200, 1212, rue Panet, à Montréal.

For more than a century, Koreans have fought to free their country from foreign empires, first Japan, then the US. Gowans tells the story from the point of view of view of those who fought for freedom: the anti-colonial guerrilla war, partition of Korea engineered by the US, conventional war (1950-53), current confrontation…

“Stephen Gowans has written a marvellous and incisive study of modern Korea.” — Professor Tim Beal, author of Crisis in Korea

Conférence en anglais avec traduction consécutive/ Presentation in English with translation
Le lundi 7 mai 19 h à 21 h
RSVP info@barakabooks.com

Written by what's left

April 13, 2018 at 10:53 pm

Posted in north Korea

The Korean Conflict, Reevaluated

By Dan Kovalik

Patriots, Traitors & Empires: The Story of Korea’s Struggle for Freedom, Stephen Gowans’ latest book on the Korean conflict, could not be more timely given the recent tensions on the Korean peninsula as well as the recent overtures being made for peace and reconciliation. The book is also a very good antidote to the anti-DPRK propaganda we have been fed for so many decades.

The Korean conflict, usually thought of as beginning in 1950 and ending in 1953, is one of the least known and understood conflicts in which the US has been involved. Given the lack of knowledge about this conflict, it has been easy to paint the DPRK, usually referred to as North Korea, as a rogue state led by a succession of madmen. As Gowans’ book explains, the real story is much more complex than this and indeed greatly favors the DPRK over the United States which has truly been the villain in this saga.

First of all, Gowans explains that the beginning of the Korean conflict can fairly be said to begin in 1945 when, as WWII was coming to an end, two US generals drew the arbitrary dividing line of Korea at the 38th parallel and when the US began to intervene quite deeply in what quickly became South Korea. The conflict could indeed be said to have begun even sooner as Gowans explains – that is, in 1932 when Kim Il-sung began the Korean armed resistance against the brutal Japanese occupation of Manchuria and Korea.

Kim and his fellow Koreans had much to rebel against. As Gowans reminds us, the Japanese occupation involved impressing Koreans, and Chinese as well, into forced labor as well as into sexual slavery. By 1938, Gowans explains, “30,000 to 40,000 women, mainly Koreans, [were] subjected to regular sexual violence by Japanese soldiers.”

Of course, after WWII was over and fascist Japan defeated, the Koreans reasonably believed that all of this would end and that Korea would proceed as an independent and unified country as it had been for centuries before. However, the US had other plans, as it had for Vietnam which had aspirations quite similar to that of Korea. Thus, as Gowans explains, the US, in the interest of blocking Soviet expansion and preventing countries like Japan and Korea from voluntarily turning to communism or socialism, decided that it was critical to help Japan maintain its economic dominance over parts of Asia, including Korea, or at least the Southern half.

Continued at counterpunch.org .

Written by what's left

April 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm

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