By Gar Smith, The Berkeley Daily Planet.
North Korea has good reason to feel paranoid.
While most of the US media has spent the past year obsessing over North Korea’s nuclear program and its missile launches, the global media has been reporting—for years—on Washington’s no-so-secret plans to “decapitate” the country by murdering Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. These reports (largely unseen in the US media) may explain why North Korea remains obsessed with missiles and nukes.
Also rattling Pyongyang’s nerves were two overlapping joint-US/South Korean military exercises (Key Resolve and Foal Eagle). The massive mobilization involved 22,800 troops rehearsing the execution of OPLAN 5015, a classified war plan calling for the invasion and “decapitation” of the North with precision strikes aimed at nuclear, missile, command-and-control facilities and the country’s leadership.
And the specter of a US aircraft carrier-led strike force barreling toward the Korean Peninsula doesn’t calm any waters, either.
Trump ‘Near-Nukes’ Afghanistan
In the wake of Donald Trump’s illegal, impetuous, and unsanctioned act of war in following a chemical weapons attack in Syria, the messaging from the corporate media went to work fanning the flames for more precipitous US military action overseas. On April 13, Commander-in-chief Trump took pride in announcing that US forces had dropped a 21,000-pound MOAB bunker buster on Afghanistan.
The extent of ground damage accomplished by detonating this “Mother of All Bombs” is nearly as extensive as the blast damage from a tactical nuclear weapon. The MOAB was reportedly used to destroy a complex system of underground tunnels hidden beneath the Afghan soil.
The message was not lost on Pyongyang: The North Korean capital sits atop a buried city of hidden underground bunkers, staging areas, and tunnels. (For the record, Russia has a weapon called “the father of all bombs.” It is believed to be nearly four times the size of Trump’s MOAB.)
Gassing Children, Bad: Blowing Them to Pieces, Not a Problem
The ancient exceptionalist/imperialist war cry is once more ricocheting around the American airwaves. As NBC’s Hallie Jackson reported excitedly on April 6, 2017: “Tonight, is the ultimate test of a commander-in-chief: Whether to activate the military—in this case, after a humanitarian crisis that has gripped the country with the world watching.”
Two quibbles: (1) Some would argue that the ultimate test of a president lies in the ability to avoid unnecessary wars. (2) Once again, the phrase “humanitarian crisis” is invoked to perpetuate the linguistic fraud known as “a humanitarian war.” In order to “send a message” about killing Syria’s “babies, beautiful babies,” Trump’s airstrikes killed scores of Syrian civilians, including at least 11 children.
And where was Trump’s concern for children—and “beautiful babies”—when his botched January 29 raid in Yemen wound up killing 30 people? Nine of the victims were young children, including one infant and several toddlers.
Here are their names and ages:
Asma Fahad Ali al Ameri — 3 months
Aisha Mohammed Abdallah al Ameri – 4 years
Halima Hussein al Aifa al Ameri – 5 years
Hussein Mohammed Abdallah Mabkhout al Ameri – 5 years
Mursil Abedraboh Masad al Ameri – 6 years
Khadija Abdallah Mabkhout al Ameri – 7 years
Nawar Anwar al Awlaqi – 8 years
Ahmed Abdelilah Ahmed al Dahab – 11 years
Nasser Abdallah Ahmed al Dahab – 12 years
“Trump’s Benghazi” also claimed the life of US Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens and Nora Awlaki, an eight-year-old girl who also happened to be a US citizen.
Obama’s ‘Red Line’: A Case of ‘Fake News’
NBC’s second-hand call-to-arms was based on several unchallenged preconceptions. Among these is the US claim that it alone has the exclusive right among all nations to act as judge and jury when dispensing bombs and cruise missiles. And that we only exercise this murderous “right” in defense of “our vital national interests.”
Another mainstream preconception is that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has once again “gassed his own people.” As yet, there has been no independent investigation into who was responsible for the release of deadly chemicals that lead to the agonizing and gruesome deaths of at least 70 Syrian adults and children in Idlib Province.
Instead, we hear and read endless references to President Barack Obama’s supposed “red line” retreat in 2013 (a false charge that he failed to stand up to Assad over the use of chemical weapons in the city of Ghouta). This meme has become a treasured bit of groupthink among the “important people” in the D.C. Beltway but it is nothing more than “fake news” used to bolster calls for flexing the Pentagon’s military muscles.
The White House and US mainstream media continue to echo the charge that Obama is somehow “responsible” for the deaths in the Syrian village of Khan Sheikhun because of his failure to attack Assad’s regime for using chemical weapons following the 2013 attack on Ghouta. Obama continues to be faulted for failing to act after Assad “crossed a red line.”
Repeating this falsehood requires that one must ignore two historical facts
(1) In 2013, acting at Moscow’s behest, Assad accepted then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s offer to avoid a bloody war by surrendering his existing chemical weapons stockpiles.
(2) A UN investigation failed to find any firm evidence that Assad was responsible for the alleged use of sarin nerve gas in Ghouta. Instead, subsequent investigations by the UN and the Pentagon left open the possibility that the deadly gas was used by Assad’s rebel opponents who staged the attack in hopes of “framing” the regime. (See the archival citations below.)
Some Relevant Articles from the News Archives of Environmentalists Against War:
(April 6, 2017) – Even as The New York Times leads the charge against the Syrian government for this week’s alleged chemical attack, it is quietly retreating on its earlier certainty about the 2013 Syria-sarin case.
(September 7, 2013) – Horrendous civilian casualties were sustained in an August 21 incident that devastated a suburb of Damascus. The US was prepared to attack Syrian targets before UN inspectors could assess what chemical weapons—if any—were used. Meanwhile, UN investigators have confirmed that the US-backed rebels have killed civilians and soldiers using sarin and other chemical weapons—possibly supplied by Saudi Arabia.
(May 31, 2013)—Authorities in Iraq have uncovered a plot by US-backed al-Qaeda rebels in Syria to use unmanned drones to deliver chemical weapons. A defense ministry spokesman said five men had been arrested after military intelligence monitored them for three months. The plotters had three workshops for manufacturing sarin and mustard gas. Remote-controlled toy planes were also seized at the workshops. The rebels reportedly had plans to smuggle sarin-armed drones to Europe and North America.
(September 7, 2013)—As of February 2013, Albania, India, Iraq, Libya, Russia, and the US still admitted to possessing chemical weapons stockpiles. Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, signatory nations are required to destroy their remaining stockpiles. Russia and the US, with the world’s largest inventories of chemical and biological weapons, have still not eliminated their stockpiles.
(September 12, 2013)—US intelligence has yet to uncover evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad directly ordered the chemical attacks last month on civilians in a suburb of Damascus. A classified Pentagon report obtained by WND confirms that sarin was seized from the US-backed Jabhat al-Nusra Front. Some of the sarin (from al-Qaida in Iraq) made its way into Turkey where it was seized. Some could have been used in a deadly rebel attack last March 19 on civilians and soldiers in Aleppo.
(August 26, 2013)—UN human rights investigators have spoken to the victims of Syria’s civil war and gathered medical testimonies that point to the Syrian rebels having used sarin nerve gas. Meanwhile, allegations of its use by the government remain unsubstantiated. Opposition fighters allegedly used unknown chemicals against residents in the town of Saraqib and in the northwestern province of Idlib to later put the blame on Assad forces.
(December 8, 2013)—The suspicion that the sarin gas attack supposedly launched by Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad’s forces against rebel positions in the town of Ghouta on August 21 was a false flag was always in the air. Now we have strong evidence pointing in that direction.
(August 24, 2013)—Syrian state TV reports troops found chemical agents in rebel tunnels in Damascus in what some called an attempt to strengthen the case against a suspect chemical weapons assault—based on UK and US efforts to win public support for a “humanitarian intervention” (similar that which was perpetrated in Libya in 2011). Meanwhile, no one is asking the most fundamentally important question: were real military-grade chemical weapons actually used at all?
(September 2, 2013)—The British Government was accused of “breathtaking laxity” in its arms controls after it emerged that officials in David Cameron’s administration authorized the export to Syria of two chemicals used to manufacture nerve agents. The UK’s Business Secretary will be required to explain why a British company was granted export licenses for the chemicals at the same time there were fears that the regime could use chemical weapons on its own people.
A “Wide Range of Options”:
Nuclear Bombs, Assassination, and Covert Invasions
On April 7, 2917 NBC Nightly News reported that it had “learned exclusive details about the top secret, highly-controversial options that are being presented to the president for possible military action against North Korea.”
NBC featured an interview with Adm. James Stavridis (Ret.), Nightly News’ Chief International Security and Diplomacy Analyst. “It’s mandatory to present the widest possible array of options,” Stavridis stated, “That’s what enables presidents to make the right decisions: when they see all the all the options on the table in front of them.”
But the “wide array of options” appeared to be dangerously narrow. Instead of considering diplomatic options (which could involve accepting China’s “double-halt” proposal that the North halt its missile and nuclear tests in exchange for South Korea and the US ending its provocative military exercises), the only three options placed on the President’s table were:
Option 1: Nuclear Weapons to South Korea
Option 2: “Decapitation”: Target and Kill
Option 3: Covert Action
Top Secret US Options for North Korea
Cynthia McFadden, NBC Senior Legal & Investigative Correspondent, laid out the three options. The first involved reversing a decades-old de-escalation treaty and shipping a new assortment of US nuclear weapons back to South Korea.
According to McFadden (working as some White House insider’s media megaphone), the second option would be a “decapitation” strike designed to: “target and kill North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un and other senior leaders in charge of missiles and nuclear weapons.”
Stravridis, however, cautioned that “decapitation is always a tempting strategy when you’re faced with a highly unpredictable and highly dangerous leader.” (The words are freighted with a chilling irony given that this description of the Korean leader also fits the US leader, Donald Trump.) According to Stravridis, “The question is: what happens the day after you decapitate.”
The third option involves infiltrating South Korean troops and US Special Forces into the North to “take out key infrastructure” and possibly stage targeted attacks on political targets.
The first option violates numerous nuclear nonproliferation agreements. (Nonetheless, NBC conveniently informs us, there is growing support in the South for reinstalling atomic weapons aimed at the North Korean border.)
The second and third options involve infringements of sovereignty as well as gross violations of international law.
Over the past years, the world press has run numerous articles detailing Washington’s desire to attack North Korea and topple the regime, even it that involves a criminal “decapitation strike.”
Now that NBC has been given the go-ahead to “normalize” the political assassination of a foreign leader by broadcasting Kim Jong-Un’s murder as a reasonable “option,” the geopolitical stakes have grown even higher.
Sanctions have so far failed to alter Kim’s behavior. It is doubtful that overt US threats calling for his murder will do anything more than harden his determination to empower his military with “offsetting” weaponry that can “send a message” to Washington and to the tens of thousands of US soldiers surrounding his country to the south, in Japan and, on Guam and other Pentagon-colonized islands in the Pacific.
One option that we would be better advised to explore is the one that China has proposed: Washington should stop its massive (and massively costly) “invasion games” off North Korea’s border and shores; in exchange, Kim would agree to halt the testing of destabilizing nuclear weapons and missiles.
It seems a fair—and wise—solution. So far, Washington and South Korea have dismissed it as “a non-starter.”
Raw Story (March 13, 2017)
The United States Navy’s SEAL Team 6 is helping to plan a “decapitation attack” aimed at taking out North Korea’s political leadership.
The Washington Post (March 7, 2016)
The United States and South Korea kicked off major military exercises on Monday, including rehearsals of surgical strikes on North Korea’s main nuclear and missile facilities and “decapitation raids” by special forces targeting the North’s leadership.
The Diplomat (January 10, 2017)
Plans to ‘solve’ the Korea issue by taking out key leaders are tragically oversimplified.
The News (Australia) (January 6, 2017)
South Korea is ramping up plans to create a “decapitation unit” whose chief mission is to paralyze North Korea by wiping out its top officials..
The New York Post (January 5, 2017)
South Korea is ramping up plans to create a “decapitation unit” whose chief mission is to paralyze North Korea by wiping out its top officials.
The Independent (January 5, 2017)
South Korea says it has established a military unit to “decapitate” Kim Jong-un and other senior Communist officials in the North in the event of war. A Special Forces team would be used to paralyze North Korea’s wartime command.
The Week (September 14, 2016)
If North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un orders a nuclear strike on South Korea, Seoul will attempt to kill him with missiles and devastate Pyongyang in the process.
Telegraph (August 28, 2015)
South Korea plans pre-emptive ‘decapitation’ strike against Kim Jong-un and senior leaders if Pyongyang makes moves towards nuclear launch.
Gar Smith is a veteran of the Free Speech Movement, Editor Emeritus of Earth Island Journal, the co-founder of Environmentalists Against War and the author of Nuclear Roulette.