04:40 GMT +313 December 2018
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    U.S. President Donald Trump (R), trailed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, arrives to speak to reporters after their meeting at Trump's golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey U.S. August 11, 2017

    Tillerson’s Wobbly War Assurance

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    It doesn’t inspire confidence when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attempted to give assurances that the American government is not seeking war with North Korea.

    After weeks of numerous menacing messages from President Donald Trump warning the “total destruction” of North Korea, the White House’s top diplomat was obliged to go public and calm growing concerns about a war breaking out.

    Tillerson told American news outlet CNN: “President Trump wants to avoid violence… He is not seeking to go to war.”

    He said Trump was committed to diplomacy, contrary to recent comments made by the president saying that Tillerson was “wasting his time” in pursuing diplomatic efforts with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Following that earlier snub to his top diplomat, Trump then added that “only one thing will work!”

    Rex Tillerson’s assurances of no war plans are not very convincing. With a curious choice of words, he said at one point in his interview with CNN: “Those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops.”

    Those cryptic words “… until the first bomb drops,” strongly suggest that there are indeed concrete plans for military action by the US against North Korea; and that the diplomacy – the little of it there is up to now – is but a prelude for eventual war.

    In the same interview, Tillerson admitted that “military options had been perfected” for the president’s consideration towards North Korea.

    That can only mean that the US is ready to deploy military force if “diplomacy” does not succeed. And what does Washington mean by “successful diplomacy”? Trump has said he will not tolerate a nuclear-armed North Korea threatening the US or its allies. (North Korea has always maintained its weapons are for self-defense and deterrence.)

    In other words, the only “diplomatic” outcome acceptable to the US is the complete capitulation by Kim Jong-un to American demands for dismantling the country’s nuclear weapons program. That is not going to happen, as the North Koreans have repeatedly affirmed, pointing to the examples of Libya and Iraq where defenseless countries are attacked mercilessly by the US.

    Randy Martin, a US-based international political analyst commenting for this column, said Washington’s stance is tantamount to “holding North Korea hostage” under the threat of war. “The US is giving the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea an ultimatum: either submit to our demands for disarmament or face annihilation,” said Martin.

    So far, Washington has spurned appeals from Russia and China for multi-party talks and a “double freeze” on all military actions by the US and North Korea.

    That rejection of Russia's and China's reasonable appeals for negotiations underlines the deep misgivings about American intentions and why Washington’s assurances on diplomacy and avoidance of war are so wobbly.

    For its part, the government in Pyongyang appears convinced that the US is moving towards an all-out war footing. The watershed moment was Trump’s speech before the United Nations General Assembly last month when he threatened to “totally destroy” the northeast Asian nation.

    This week, the US is to carry out another major naval exercise off the Korean Peninsula along with its South Korean ally. The previous exercise was only a few weeks ago. This time, a second US aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, has arrived in the region to partake in the drill. So too have two missile destroyers and the nuclear-powered submarine, USS Michigan.

    This follows last week’s maneuver when American nuclear-capable strategic B1-B bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula on live practice sorties, accompanied for the first time ever by both South Korean and Japanese fighter jets.

    Washington claims these repeated maneuvers are “defensive”. While North Korea has long protested they are rehearsals for war. Pyongyang also points out that the US has moved nuclear weapons into the region in a reversal of policy. The absence of a peace treaty to mark a definitive end to the 1950-53 Korean war – mainly due to American refusal to sign such a treaty – is reasonable grounds for Pyongyang’s concern over ongoing military maneuvers.

    Adding to these concerns is that the US drills this week also involve evacuation exercises of non-combatant Americans in South Korea. There are nearly 30,000 US troops stationed in there. Their families are part of the evacuation drill taking place this week. That has reportedly prompted fears among South Koreans that it is “a sign that the United States might be preparing for military action against the North”.

    If a war breaks out between the US and North Korea it will be a global catastrophe, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously warned. For, in that event, such a war would quickly escalate to the use of nuclear weapons.

    It is imperative for all parties to scale back the rhetoric and commit to exclusively peaceful means to resolve a decades-old conflict on the Korean Peninsula. It is unacceptable that the US refuses to sign a peace treaty with North Korea to mark the end of the 1950-53 war. It is also unacceptable that the US has for decades shirked a genuine diplomatic engagement with North Korea, as Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov remarked this week.

    President Trump’s relentless warmongering threats in the context of a massive military buildup by US forces on North Korea’s borders are not just reckless; they constitute acts of aggression which violate international law.

    His Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, appears to be lately involved in a public relations exercise of trying to give the impression that Washington is all about diplomacy, and not about war. But this “prettifying” of the grim situation is like putting lipstick on a pig.

    Washington is criminally derelict in legal obligations to prioritize diplomacy with North Korea. Are we supposed to believe that Trump’s 3am Tweet-storms mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man” are a serious effort at diplomacy?

    No, the truly disturbing thing is that the US is foisting its war plans on North Korea regardless of international law, morality, and the risk of a nuclear war. This in itself is criminal conduct by Washington.

    Surely, Russia and China should draft a resolution at the UN Security Council demanding implementation of their diplomatic roadmap. If the US vetoes then it stands to be exposed as an aggressor.

    A war with North Korea is completely unnecessary. It is a gratuitous calamity in the making.

    The only thing “necessary” about such a war is for the necessity of the US to “justify” its monstrous spending of $700 billion every year on military and weapons. Wars are to the US what a fix is to a drug addict.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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