Gordon Campbell on North Korea, neo-Nazism, and Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. As someone else noted on the weekend, how come global diplomacy has started to look like a Steven Seagal straight-to-video movie?

We’re meant to feel re-assured that despite all the inflammatory rhetoric, the military stances of both Washington and Pyongyang are geared to defence, not attack. Sure, the North Koreans talk tough and crazy unpredictable, but that’s for defensive reasons – to deter an invasion from a US that they see as an aggressor – and the US talks tough to defend everyone else in the neighbourhood from the North Koreans, whom they see as being an aggressor. Here’s how one regional expert described the situation late last week to the Washington Post:

The big thing we keep missing about North Korea is that their threats are always the second half of a sentence, and we ignore the first half. North Korea consistently says, ‘If the United States attacks us first, we will fight back.’ The only thing that gets reported in the U.S. media is the second clause, not the first. So their comments are clearly deterrent in nature, and the Guam ‘threat’ was exactly along those lines. So we always overhype the North Korean threat, because it is absolutely not a threat of pre-emptive or first strike. For the U.S., the current administration might be speaking perhaps a little more flamboyantly than previous administrations, for sure. But essentially what they are saying is no different than any previous administration has said: ‘If the United States is attacked first, we will fight back, as well.’ The message is one of deterrence, not first strike….It is widely accepted that North Korea will strike at American targets somewhere in the Pacific if we attack them first, almost nobody doubts that. For their part, the North Koreans fully expect a massive American attack at some point, they believe us. So deterrence holds, because of the costs involved. It’s not pretty, but it works.”

Fine, but only up to a point. Since the two sides are mirror images of each other’s persecution fantasies, the chances of a fatal miscalculation are high. Last week, when US threatened to rain down fire and fury etc the North Koreans threatened to fire a bunch of missiles over Japan, and into the sea off the US military base in Guam. If that happens, the US is expected to shoot down the incoming missiles down by various means, including the recently deployed THAAD system, which is a complex new missile-to-missile array.

All that would be needed to start a nuclear war by accident if /when those US counter-measures swing into play, would be for a single commander in North Korea to mistake the US reaction as a pre-emptive strike against the Motherland, and then hit every button at his disposal. It is common knowledge that a pre-emptive US strike would take out about 80-95% of the North Korean launch capacity. Therefore, Pyongyang’s only hope of revenge requires that every general in every part of the nation regards themselves as being the last surviving tool of retaliation. Past a very early point, it becomes an all-or-nothing situation.

That’s how easily a ‘defensive’ reaction by the US could be misread as its exact opposite. Nuclear war has always been far more likely to occur by accident than by design. Richard Nixon’s famous madman ‘theory of diplomacy – in which everyone is left unsure about what a US superpower that feigns craziness might do, and therefore tempers its behaviour accordingly – only works as a deterrent when there is one side of the equation still acting rationally. In this case however, both Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump are erratic, unstable and supremely dis-interested in understanding the other fellow’s POV.

Therefore, the only rational planetary response to North Korea is to accept an unpleasant reality. Namely : like Israel, like Pakistan, like India and the five major powers, North Korea has now become a nuclear armed state, whether we like it or not. Moreover, North Korea does not regard its nuclear status as being negotiable. They see it as essential for the regime’s continued survival in a hostile world, If they disarm, Pyongyang reasons, they’ll be as dead as Muammar Ghaddafi, who agreed to drop his nuclear programme and ended up being overthrown by an uprising assisted by the very same countries (Britain, France and ther US) that had urged him to abandon his nuclear weapons.

The way the North Koreans see it, the same will quickly happen to them, should they disarm. Moreover, if Venezuela –or Iran – had the bomb, they’d be less vulnerable right now to US threats. The unpleasant reality is that Pyongyang’s nuclear arms programme exists and it can’t be reversed by force, not without triggering a nuclear war. Thus, the only way to deal with North Korea is to leave it alone militarily, and offer talks on a combination of trade carrots and sanctions designed to keep the regime in check. Otherwise, trying to strip the Kim regime of its nuclear weapons right now is like walking into a bear cage after you’ve poked it, and then trying to file its claws.

History Repeats

Miscalculation has been narrowly averted before. The world went to the brink in the early 1990s with North Korea, according to this account by US officials who were involved in that previous showdown with the Kim regime.

During the summer of 1994… the U.S. military drew up plans to send cruise missiles and F-117 stealth fighters to strike a small nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, in order to prevent North Korea from recovering the raw material to make nuclear bombs. “I believe it would have resulted almost certainly in war,” said Robert Gallucci who was the State Department’s point man on Korea in 1994. He was sure an attack on Yongbyon would spark another war on the Korean peninsula, a war — sources say — in which the Pentagon had forecast up to one-million deaths.

Then as now, the real fear was one of misunderstanding and miscalculation :

The real fear was that North Korea would read the buildup and evacuations as certain signs of an impending attack, and launch a pre-emptive invasion of South Korea. U.S. analysts believed the North Koreans took one main lesson from the 1991 Persian Gulf War: Don’t give the United States time to mass its forces.

So what happened to avert the 1994 crisis? In the nick of time, there was an intervention by former President Jimmy Carter, who had flown on a private mission to Pyongyang, where he met with Kim Jong –Un’s grandfather. Together, they both worked out a deal :

Jimmy Carter had been meeting as a private citizen with North Korea’s aging leader Kim Il Sung, and was calling [the Clinton White House] to report a breakthrough. The White House session broke up and relieved officials watched television as Carter informed CNN by telephone of the latest development……Over the next few days, North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear program in return for new nuclear reactors that don’t produce weapons-grade plutonium, along with oil to help meet its energy needs. “Op plan 5027”, the U.S. plan to defeat a North Korean attack, was put back on the shelf.

That’s what needs to happen, again.

In the land of the neo-Nazis

Here’s how the Daily Stormer, the US white supremacist newspaper has reported on President Trump’s incredibly weak criticism of violence “on many sides” statement. You know, the one about the neo-Nazi protest march and subsequent murder of an anti-racist in Charlottesville, Virginia. This has been the neo-Nazi reaction to Trump’s statement:

3:46 PM:

Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate… on both sides! So he implied the antifa are haters.

There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all.

He said he loves us all.

Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him.

No condemnation at all.

When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room.

Really, really good.

God bless him.

Oh, and the Daily Stormer also reports this as well. Spoils of war etc etc:

To those of you in Charlottesville, go out and enjoy yourselves. If you’re at a bar in a group, random girls will want to have sex with you. Because you’re the bad boys. The ultimate enemy of the state. Every girl on the planet wants your dick now. And to everyone, know this: we are now at war.

And lest we forget…here’s how Donald Trump had responded in February when left wing protesters at Berkeley campus disrupted a speech by the right wing agitator Milo Yiannopoulos. Those protesters at Berkeley were denounced by Trump as “Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters…” Too bad they weren’t wearing swastika armbands and carrying torches in defence of Old South racism. Clearly then, they’d have got a nod and a wink from the current President of the United States.

Milo, Hip Hop Brainiac

For the past five years, Rory Ferreira aka Milo has been using hip hop as a vehicle for his explorations of jazz, philosophy, semiotics and relationships. Its not accidental that Milo sounds a lot like the mid 1990s conceptual rapper Aceyalone – whose 1998 album Book of Human Language offered a heady mix of references to Lewis Carroll, Pink Floyd, semantics, and ponderings on time and death. Milo is a bird of the same feather, in both content and delivery.

With Milo, the references to jazz musicians (Stanley Turrentine, Lonnie Liston Smith, Shirley Scott) sit comfortably alongside shout-outs to Schopenhauer and Hegel.. and like Aceyalone, Milo belongs to the long running Project Blowed collective in Los Angeles, with his peers today being Open Mike Eagle, Busdriver and Nocando, all of whom do similarly heady, conscious rap leavened by a good deal of self-deprecating wit. Milo is the best of the bunch, even if occasionally his flow sags a bit under its own earnest weight. (Milo is still only 25, and it shows at times.) Here’s an early cut from back when he was nineteen. I can still identify with this great couplet :

I’m almost positive if I made better mix CDs
I would bother less with relationship complexities

This one take effort below is also great… The sample is by Bon Iver, and the lyric is typically, knottily Milo-reflexive:

Coded DNA fables sent by splintered RCA cable
Red, white, and yellow, bellied like avid camp enthusiasts
I stay hella smelly, a limp wrist, imperfectionist
Interjects a kiss over the samples, hiss
And that’s a lot of S words
Get nervous when I have to navigate those breast curves

And from a few weeks ago, comes this new track. Too bad about the handheld camera action on the broadsword…