‘North Korea has good reason to be afraid of US barbarism’

Afshin Rattansi
Afshin Rattansi is a journalist, author of “The Dream of the Decade – the London Novels” and an RT Contributor. Afshin Rattansi began his journalism career on The (London) Guardian in the late 1980s as one of the newspaper’s youngest ever columnists. He went on to work for Britain’s Channel 4, BBC, Al Jazeera Arabic, CNN International and Bloomberg Television and many other media. In the run-up to the Lehman Brothers crash of 2008, he published a collection of four of his novels as “The Dream of the Decade – The London Novels.” As US pressure increased on Iran, Afshin moved to Tehran to anchor the news on the new satellite TV channel, Press TV which was later banned in Britain. He set up Alternate Reality Productions in London in 2010 making Double Standards, a comedy satire show as well as other TV news commissions. His writing has also appeared in the New Statesman; Counterpunch; The Oldie; Plays and Players; Mitchell Beazley’s Encyclopaedia of 21st Century; The Journal of the British Astronomical Association; Association of Lloyd's Members Journal; Critical Quarterly; Makers of Modern Culture (Routledge, 2007); “Brought To Book” (Penguin, 1994); Flaunt; Attitude. He is a founder member of the Frontline Club in London and he won the Sony Award for outstanding contribution to international media in 2002.
‘North Korea has good reason to be afraid of US barbarism’
With US military pressure and Libya’s fate in mind, North Korea has a good reason to beef up its nuclear arsenal as the only deterrent against NATO warfare, RT contributor Afshin Rattansi believes.

RT:US Secretary of State John Kerry starts his Asian tour with South Korea and then Beijing. He'll be meeting with the Chinese and South Korean leaders, and the head of NATO - doesn't this look like bad timing? Or is it a last-minute scramble to try to find a diplomatic solution?

Afshin Rattansi: We have had the G8 foreign ministers meeting here in London and I have to say it’s quite surprising that both Russia and China seem to be in step with the Americans. We have to remember there are missile tests going on in Britain, nuclear missile tests. I don’t see anyone trying to sanction Britain.

John Kerry and the US government are spreading all this fear now and we must remember it was the US who started putting stealth fighters in Guam, just destroying the six party talks. And also just remember the context. In the 50s, the US killed 20 per cent of Korea’s population and destroyed 85 per cent of the buildings in North Korea… This is a situation that’s getting out of hand and all it takes is a phone call from President Obama to calm it down.  

RT:The G8 foreign ministers today condemned North Korea's threats and its nuclear weapons program. And yet they offered no solution either to this standoff. What could world powers have done to prevent this situation from ever arising?

AR: I suppose there is another game being played because the US is ramping up its military facilities in Southeast Asia and obviously it’s foreseeable that China will become a super power. And Kim Jong Un said one month ago, and repeatedly, “we don’t want war. We want to talk…” America left the non-proliferation treaty. Britain isn’t obeying by the spirit of the non-proliferation treaty of which it’s a signatory.

This January 1951 photo shows B-29 "Superfortress" bombers dropping bombs on a strategic military target in North Korea.(AFP Photo)

And what we need urgently is for President Obama to make this call, but as in so many other foreign policy issues, president Obama is wavering, looks weak about it, and seems to just continue to carry out these war games on the coast. If you think of it the other way around – if North Korea was putting nuclear capable stealth planes just beside the United States and it had previously killed 20 per cent of the US population – we can see why Kim Jong Un and North Korea are afraid of US barbarism.

RT:What’s the next step? Maybe North Korea will come to the negotiating table, but what if it doesn’t?

AR: Well North Korea said they want to talk and it’s the US that is just ramping up pressure… It’s as if the US wants this kind of gesturing and brinkmanship to help its military facilities all around China. What’s necessary now is urgent talks. Because of course the worst case scenario and probably more likely than any other kind of attack, is a mistake being made.

And let’s all remember that North Korea is a militarized society and any bombs it sends to South Korea in highly urban populations will kill lots of people. As for any retaliation against North Korea – well, the United States bombed most of it in the 1950s and they have underground tunnels. The effect on North Korea in any bombing campaign will not be nearly as bad as that on the South.

RT:Is there an argument to be made that North Korean regime is justified thinking that nuclear weapons are the best chance they've got of staying in power?

AR: This 21st century has proven time and time again that nuclear weapons are perhaps the only deterrent against the United States and NATO warfare. Libya will hang in the imaginations of many developing world leaders because it proved – because of course Gaddafi got rid of his nuclear weapon program – people are going to want WMD. That seems to be what NATO countries have catalyzed after Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and other interventions that resulted in the loss of so many lives.

RT:Many analysts believe that China is the key to solving this stand-off. How much influence does Beijing really have over North Korea?

AR: There’s a lot of speculation about that, because China has completely changed its position in recent months. So you have all these analysts talking about North Korea, this secretive society that not many people are privy to knowing about, unless you’re perhaps a basketball player. I think China will be looking at this very closely and will be in close contact with Kim Jong Un. Presumably, because they are going with the US in threatening sanctions, I think there is another game being played because let’s face it: this is really about the United States trying to militarize against what they see as their number one perceived threat in the 21st century, in the People’s Republic of China.  

B-52H bomber dropping a load of M117 750lb bombs at an undisclosed location.(AFP Photo / USAF)

RT:Is there any danger that in the imminent future, the US will scale down its South Korean war games? Will it call it off very shortly?

AR: I don’t think they will. And we’ve got to remember that the US were the people in first place after 1945 that split this nation. They didn’t want Kim Jong Il to win a democratically held election and in 1948 they put all the bases in South Korea and Guam. What they want to do is force their presence in that region, and president Obama lobbied heavily by the arms companies. Arms companies even in Britain will be benefiting greatly by all this new talk about perceived North Korean threat because everyone can upgrade their armories, let alone upgrading nuclear weapons of mass destruction, in violation of any type of interpretation of the non-proliferation treaty which of course Iran is a member.

RT:There are still lots of questions about whether North Korea has the capability to put a nuclear warhead – make it small enough – to put it on the missiles it’s got. But there is a lot of thought that over the next five days or so they will try to launch these mid-range ballistic rockets. If this happens, what do you think the reaction is going to be? Could there be a military retaliation?

AR: Well the reaction will be perhaps more sanctions and that is a spiral. I can’t speculate into the minds of the uncle and aunt reputedly of Kim Jong Un who are basically running things, according to some intelligence analysts. Given his statement that they want to talk and they don’t want war, it’s difficult to tell. But of course President Obama is ratcheting up that pressure and putting all those new military facilities on Guam.