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Korean Roulette

Author bio: 
Richard Cottrell

WW2 began when a bunch of storm troopers dressed in Polish uniforms attacked the radio station in the German-dominated Danzig Free State. It was the classic example of the False Flag suggesting Poland had attacked Germany.

As events in the Korean peninsula unfold, bear that in mind. And also bear in mind the South Korean cruiser sunk by ‘northern’ torpedoes, which turned out to be German-manufactured weapons -- which the south has but the north lacks. Remember, too, the Gulf of Tonkin incident during the Vietnam War. The story was put out that a US cruiser had been attacked in open waters. It was a fairy tale -- and the perfect excuse LBJ needed to bomb Hanoi.

We are gradually discovering that it was indeed the South that fired the first shots, after the North made a fuss about sensitive border training exercises. All the usual suspects began the instant clamour for war. Some reports went about that the ‘Ministry of Eternal War’, the late nuclear madman Herman Kahn’s RAND Corporation, recently had an audience with the imperial chief, suggesting a start some really big scrap to pull the US out of recession.  Webster Tarpley among others is thinking along that line.

The ‘North Korean’ fusillade has uncanny echoes of Danzig. Again, a state with the military power of a gnat so to speak picks a scrap with the heavily-armed US colony to the South. For sure those people in Pyongyang are a funny bunch, but I question whether they think they would survive a massive naval and air bombardment, the form an attempt to knock out the regime would probably take. Any ground fighting would be left to the South Koreans. The US is still nursing the sores of the first Korean war on that score.

It is no co-incidence, of course, that this latest adventure in regime change occurs during an uneasy power shift in the northern camp. There is a vacuum at the top. Little Daddy seems to be ga-ga and Baby Kim none too comfortable in his new shoes. So renegade trigger happy generals decide to have some fun? Possible, but very unlikely. I am sure this is a manufactured incident which, like Danzig, could have immense consequences.

My big question is: how much does China know about all this? Did the great Nobel warprize-fighter sign it all off in Beijing during his recent imperial Asian promenade? There is just a chance I might be right about that. Because, angered by an obvious display of belligerence in her own back yard, the Chinese might crash the dollar given their huge Treasury holdings. Or did they plan all along to take the long term view? From the intelligence we can now read, that seems to be the game plan and in line with my thinking in the original filing.

The Oriental mind, as is often said, is supposed to be inscrutable. For some years I was an official delegate from the European Parliament to the Peoples’ Congress. This experience suggested to me that the Chinese mind is very carefully nuanced, but the western mind has extreme difficulty getting on message.

Let me see if I can explain what I think may be going on in Beijing. China knows perfectly well that she is being progressively contained -- the language of the cold war and the tactics used against the old Soviet Union. As of now she is no match for American firepower. The biggest fleet in the Pacific is far and away American. China has no carriers for example. All this suggests this is no time for a big shooting match. In any event there would be no winners in all out scrap. By no stretch of the imagination could the US hold down China. This is not the Boxers redux.

China does have the Dollar Bomb, but dropping that would also wipe out all her assets held in dollars -- and this seems a mite too soon for such a grand gesture. Would North Korea be worth that? Probably not. Indeed it now appears from the leaked cables conveniently appearing as the crisis ripens is that the Chinese rate two priorities. The economic one screams for attention. Second, military options are off the board. Being unable to stop a US-spun attack on the north demands the Chinese must not lose face. It seems from the same leaked traffic that Obama, as I suspected all along, may have taken care of that one, a promise not to permanently station US troops on China’s sensitive frontiers with the New Korea.

For the US this looks like a now-or-never moment. It’s time to win a war. Any war. For that matter, anywhere. Imagine all those generals slapping each other’s backs, when they finally get to win the Korean War half a century and more after the humiliating armistice. Seen from the Potomac, a US victory over a manic-depressive, dystopian midget regime would, as Washington sees it, ring a clarion call around the world.

After all a starving people would be released from house arrest. A nation re-united. America’s proclaimed mission, to free the entire world (except next-door Haitians, earthquake battered as she is, flooded, starved and now visited by yet another plague, cholera). If Haiti threatened to develop the bomb or throw her lot in with Cuba, she would get a lot of attention in double quick time.

Its now obvious that the Chinese see perfectly well that North Korea might just have run out of time. She is a fossil economically and politically, unlikely to adopt the Chinese model of socialised corporatism which has turned her into the economic giant she is now. She is frankly a nuisance. China knows full well the tactics of Sun Tzu not to fight wars you cannot win and the advice of Confucius -- the Chinese Machiavelli -- on confusing your enemy.

China’s long-term aim is the Project for the New Chinese Century. She suspects that a dose of highly testosterone-charged premature ejaculation by the US in Korea will actually advance that. For, deprived of the omnipresent threat of an ideologically redundant sort-of nuclear north, the Korean Family can settle down to coming to terms with who is really the big kid on the block, even as American economic power ebbs away. There is a parallel with the two-edged US victory over the Soviet Union, which removed the Communist yoke from the shoulders of perennial rival Russia...

While Obama was on his Grand Tour, Pentagonia let off that big firework from the west coast, a sea-fired missile of considerable range and power. That too was part of the present patchwork. But it was childish and the Chinese undoubtedly saw it that way. Regimes which are reaching the supernova phase can be relied upon to indulge in histrionics.

There will be much heat and very little light if an attempt is indeed going to be made to free up Korea. The crisis may just as likely fizzle out, like scores more in the past. But I suspect that this filing by the South Korean Yonhap News Agency on 24th November is in line with my analysis:

“The Chinese government said Tuesday it is keeping tabs on the situation surrounding North Korea's abrupt artillery attack on a South Korean island in the West Sea.”

In passing, the Iranians must be following these events with very detailed attention.

Richard Cottrell, a former European MP and delegate of the European Parliament to the Chinese Peoples’ Congress and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is the author of Fighting Dirty: How NATO, Neo Nazis and the Mafia Fought a Secret War in Europe, to be published by Progressive Press.