War Hype Around North Korea—While Steps Are Being Taken To Begin Talks

This item appeared at Executive Intelligence Review (EIR) August 10, 2017 and is republished here courtesy of our friend and frequent RogueMoney guest Harley Schlanger. -- JWS

Aug. 10, 2017 (EIRNS)—War talk is going on around the world on the North Korea situation, but the reality is different. The "fire and fury" from President Trump, a stern warning from General Mattis that the U.S. could obliterate North Korea in a war, and North Korea’s declared plans to demonstrate the capacity to hit Guam with missiles, are in fact the same sort of rhetoric common after every provocation from either side—be it a North Korean missile or bomb test or a new sanction from the U.S. or the UN.

In fact, in the past week, meetings took place between Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho, and between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Ri, while there was a brief greeting between Ri and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa, all at the ASEAN events in Manila. Secretary Tillerson told the press Wednesday that he is "hopeful" that the agreement of all UN Security Council members, including Russia and China, to approve new sanctions last week

"can begin to persuade the regime that they needed to reconsider the current pathway they’re on and think about engaging in a dialogue about a different future."

But despite all of the belligerent rhetoric, he added:

"Nothing that I have seen and nothing that I know of would indicate that the situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours." Asked about Pyongyang’s way out, Tillerson said: "Talks. Talks with the right expectation of what those talks will be about."

On the ground, nothing has changed militarily. An unnamed U.S. military official told Reuters that

"Just because the rhetoric goes up, doesn’t mean our posture changes. The only time our posture goes up is based on facts, not because of what Kim and Trump say to each other."

The facts on the ground in the region confirm that fact.

In South Korea, the President’s spokesman Wednesday said there was not an "imminent crisis," and that efforts to begin talks with the North "are working with a belief that the possibility is very high."

A source in Seoul, in former government circles, told EIR that things are calm there, as they always are when there is hype in the West about an imminent war on the Peninsula, since they believe the West is not crazy enough to start a war which would wipe out much of South Korea and perhaps some other nations. But, the source said, the confidence in President Moon Jae-in is dwindling, primarily because he is trying to play it both ways—acting tough by joining in Western threats, while calling on Pyongyang to begin talks. This will not succeed, the source believes, since it will not be accepted in the North, which requires some assurances of its security guarantees in order to begin talks. Moon is seen as indecisive.

The Chinese/Russian offer of a mutual freeze—a freeze on testing in the North and on U.S./Korean military exercises in the South—has not been totally rejected, but is not being accepted by the U.S. at this time.