Saturday, May 08, 2010

Can the U.S. beat Israel at its game?

Can the U.S. beat Israel at its game?
By Jeff Gates

May 7, 2010,
NO Jeff, they are both complicit like siamese twins.....

Americans can now see the light at the end of a long dark tunnel -- if only they will look.

We entered this tunnel in 1948 when an enclave of religious fanatics induced President Harry Truman to portray them as a “state” meriting recognition, aid and protection.

We were warned not to do so.

These extremists had just inflicted on the Palestinians an ethnic cleansing that rivaled in its savagery the fascist abuse of ethnic groups during WWII. In December 1948, Albert Einstein and 27 other concerned Jews urged us “not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.”

Our failure to heed that warning led to the current morass in which we find ourselves.

Einstein and his colleagues foresaw that a “Leader State” was the goal of the “terrorist party” that has led Israel over all but a few of the 62 years since Truman’s fateful decision.

The latest Likud Party coalition ranks among the worst in the consistency of its duplicity and the blatant manipulation of its loyal ally, the American people. By our unbreakable bond with this abusive enclave, the U.S. appears guilty by association, making us a target of those abused.

From the outset, deceit was the foundation on which this ill-fated alliance was built. To betray, one must befriend. To defraud, one must first create a relationship of trust. Therein lies the basis of the “special relationship” through which Tel Aviv pursued, though us, its expansionist agenda.

To deceive in plain sight requires a capacity for what national security specialists know as game theory. In 2005, Israeli mathematician and game theory specialist Robert J. Aumann received the Nobel Prize in Economic Science. Co-founder of the Center for Rationality at Hebrew University, this Jerusalem resident candidly concedes “the entire school of thought that we have developed here in Israel” has turned “Israel into the leading authority in this field.” He’s correct.

Israeli strategists deploy mathematical models to anticipate reactions to staged provocations and manipulated crises. By applying game theory algorithms, those reactions (and reactions to those reactions), behavior becomes foreseeable -- within an acceptable range of probabilities.

While the future is never certain, the effects of a well-planned provocation become “probabilistic.” This blend of duplicity and game theory expertise makes Israel a perilous partner and an outright imposter when portrayed as a credible partner for peace in the Middle East.

For game theory war-planners, peace is not the point. For the agent provocateur in pursuit of an undisclosed agenda, the anticipated reaction is the goal. Aumann practices his craft not at the Center for Morality, Justice or Fairness but at the Center for Rationality. Peace would preclude the expansion of Greater Israel, an irrational outcome to be avoided -- at any cost.

Waging war by way of deception

From a game theory perspective, Palestinian abuse has little to do with the Palestinians. From the Israeli point of view, their mistreatment is all about how best to provoke reactions that can be foreseen -- within a acceptable range of probabilities. For those who view themselves as Chosen and above the law, such abuse is their God-given right. To behave otherwise would be irrational.

Well-planned provocations have long been Tel Aviv’s core competence. For a skilled agent provocateur, an anticipated reaction can become a powerful weapon in the arsenal of the provocateur. In response to a mass murder on American soil, even a moderately competent game theorist could foresee that the U.S. would dispatch its military to avenge that attack.

With phony intelligence “fixed” around a preset goal, a game-theory algorithm could predict that our military could be redirected to invade Iraq, a nation that played no role in the attack. Therein lies the game theory-enabled treachery imbedded at the core of this duplicitous relationship.

Happily, our national security apparatus now comprehends the “how” of this non-transparent treason. Concern at its common source is rampant in senior military ranks. Israel and pro-Israelis have been confirmed as those who fixed the intelligence that took us to war on false pretenses.

Those “in the know” now grasp that Truman’s recognition of this enclave was part of a multi-decade fraud that remains ongoing as Israel seeks to induce us into Iran and even Pakistan.

No one likes to be played for the fool. Yet that’s how Israel treated all those it befriended. That includes not only other nations but also those in the broader faith communities deceived to believe they share an identity of interest with this “latest manifestation of fascism.”

Intelligence agencies are fast coming to recognize the shared mindset of those who prey on the goodwill and trust of others. Their distrust of the U.S. is now morphing into sympathy and pity.

Misplaced Sympathy

Those adept at marketing serial Evildoers are the agent provocateur source of the very terror from which they claim a need for protection. What now needs protection are those who continue to believe -- despite the facts -- that this “state” is owed the status granted to other nations.

Light is now seeping into the geopolitical crevices where this deception has long operated in the dark. The consistency of Israeli behavior over six decades has left the rule of law with but one choice: acknowledge the fraud and withdraw Israel’s standing as a legitimate nation state.

Just prior to extending recognition, Harry Truman was assured by Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann that Israel would become a democracy and not what he feared: a theocratic and racist state. We now know that even its very founding was a fraud on America’s leaders.

Given every opportunity to conduct its affairs consistent with international law and standards of human decency, this extremist enclave chose another course. As both an enabler and a target of these religious extremists, the U.S. has a special obligation to take the lead in withdrawing recognition and securing the nuclear arsenal now under Israeli control.

Further delay only heightens the probability of another agent provocateur operation on a scale of 9/11 -- doubtless featuring yet another evidentiary trail that points to “Islamo” fascists. With more than 80 percent of the U.S. Congress declaring an “unbreakable bond” with Israel, Americans face a perilous future in which we need help from other nations to pressure our leaders to act promptly.

We were warned more than six decades ago. Now is the time to heed that warning.

Jeff Gates is author of Guilt By Association, Democracy at Risk and The Ownership Solution. See

Friday, May 07, 2010

The “Evil Guys List”? “Free Journalism” in the Service of US Foreign Policy

The “Evil Guys List”? “Free Journalism” in the Service of US Foreign Policy

The Role of Reporters without Borders
by F. William Engdahl

Global Research

An organization calling itself Reporters Without Borders (RWB; French: Reporters sans frontières, or RSF) has just named Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, China’s President Hu Jintao, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev and Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko to their list of Forty Worst Predators of Press Freedom for 2010. Most significant about their list of ‘bad guys’ is the geopolitical relation of those leaders and those countries to the current ‘enemies list’ of the US State Department. That is no accident, as becomes clear when we look more closely at who funds RWB.

In their declaration RWB states, “Since these predators have faces, we must know them to better denounce them. Reporters without Borders has decided to draw their portraits.” Their colourful language is no accident. The term predator conjures up images of horror in most people.

In their latest ‘Evil Guys’ list just released they remark about Russia’s Putin: “As well as manipulating groups and institutions, Putin has promoted a climate of pumped-up national pride that encourages the persecution of dissidents and freethinkers and fosters a level of impunity that is steadily undermining the rule of law.” RWB said that Putin, “the former KGB officer,” has exerted so much control over all aspects of life in Russia that “the national TV stations now speak with a single voice.” Interestingly enough, the citation and a report of the naming of Putin appeared in an article in the Russian state-owned media, RIA Novosti.[1]

With respect to China, RWB states: “In honour of the Shanghai World Expo, the biggest display of Chinese might (sic) since the 2008 Olympic Games, Reporters Without Borders has for the past week been inviting Internet users to visit a specially created page on its website dedicated to the freedoms that are flouted in China.”[2]

Perhaps just as important as the list of bad guys from RWB are the names that are not on it. One might ask why names of such world-class enemies of free speech and press freedom as Georgia’s dictator, President Mikhail Saakashvili, or the former Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko, or the recently deposed dictator of Kyrgyzstan, Bakiyev are absent. All three came to power in Washington-backed coups, also termed Color Revolutions. Notably, all the persons just named by RWB as “predators” have been targets of Washington-financed destabilization attempts in recent years.

Who stands behind RWB?

The slick media image that RWB presents to the world, such as using the term “predators,” is no accident. It is the product of RWB’s ad agency. Announcing the list of forty on May 3 on their website, RWB states, “The list of Predators of Press Freedom is released today, backed by a campaign ad produced by the Saatchi & Saatchi agency… There are 40 names on this year’s list of predators… that cannot stand the press, treat it as an enemy and directly attack journalists. They are powerful, dangerous, violent and above the law.”[3]

Saatchi & Saatchi is one of the world’s most influential “hidden persuaders” or PR firms. They are credited with the campaign that brought Margaret Thatcher to power and are the ad firm for Gordon Brown’s Labour Party. Clients have included Citigroup, Hewlett-Packard, DuPont, Proctor & Gamble. One might ask where RWB gets the finances to hire such elite advisors?

NED hiding behind RWB

The most interesting question is not the deeds of Hu Jintao or Putin or Ahmadinejad in the last year in relation to their national press, but rather who is judging these leaders. We might well ask, “Who judges the judges?” The answer is, Washington.

Reporters Without Borders is an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). According to its website it is headquartered in Paris, France. Paris is a curious home base for an organization that, as it turns out, is financed by the US Congress and by agencies tied to the US government.

If we go to the RWB website to find who stands behind these self-anointed judges of world press freedom, we find nothing. Not even their board of directors are named, let alone their financial backers. Their annual published Income and Expenditure statements give no clue who stands behind them financially.

Millions of dollars of their annual income are disclosed as being from “sale of publications.” It does not name the publications or to whom they were sold. As one researcher noted, “Even taking into account that the books are published for free, it would have had to sell 170 200 books in 2004 and 188 400 books in 2005 to earn the more than $2 million the organization claims to make each year 516 books per day in 2005. The money clearly had to come from other sources, as it turns out it did.”[4] An attempt to go on the RWB website to order any of their publications found no link to any purchasing information nor any price listings or book summary. Very curious indeed.

In their official financial statements and income accounts published in September 2009, they state: “The organisation’s finances in 2008 were marked by the end of the campaign (begun in 2001) over the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games which significantly affected income and expenditure.” [5] That means RWB spent eight years and undisclosed amounts of money campaigning against the Government of China in the run-up to the Beijing 2008 Olympics. For what purpose? Notably, the RWB names China’s President Hu Jintao as this year’s ‘predator’ for his actions in cracking down on unrest in Tibet in March 2010 and Xinjiang in July 2009, both of which were the covert work of a US-financed NGO called National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Hmmm.

After years of trying to hide it, Robert Menard, Paris-based Secretary-General of Reporters Sans Frontieres or RWB, confessed that the RWB budget was primarily funded by “US organizations strictly linked to US foreign policy.”[6] Those US based organizations which support RWB include the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Congress’ National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Also included is the Center for Free Cuba, whose trustee, Otto Reich, was forced to resign from the George W. Bush Administration after exposure of his role in a CIA-backed coup attempt against Venezuela’s democratically elected President Hugo Chavez.[7]

As one researcher found after months of trying to get a reply from NED about their funding of Reporters Without Borders, which included a flat denial from RSF executive director Lucie Morillon, the NED revealed that Reporters Without Borders received grants over at least three years from the International Republican Institute. The IRI is one of four subsidiaries of NED.[8]

The NED, as I detail in my book, Full Spectrum Dominance:Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order, was created by the US Congress during the Reagan administration on the initiative of then-CIA Director Bill Casey to replace the CIA’s civil society covert action programs, which had been exposed by the Church committee in the mid-1970s. As Allen Weinstein, the man who drafted the legislation creating the NED admitted years later, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” [9]

Perhaps an organization sitting as judge of world press freedom ought itself to practice a little more openness and transparency about where its backing originates. Otherwise we might think they have something to hide.

F. William Engdahl is also author of the book, Gods of Money: Wall Street and the Death of the American Century, available at end of May 2010. He may be reached via his website at


[1] RIA Novosti, RSF names Putin, Kadyrov freedom “predators,” RIA Novisti, Moscow, May 4, 2010, accessed in

[2] Reporters Without Borders website, Reporters without Borders works on all fronts, May 3, 2010, accessed in,37337.html

[3] Ibid.

[4] Diana Barahona, Reporters Without Borders and Washington’s Coups, ZNet, August 2, 2006, accessed in

[5] Reporters Without Borders, Income and Expenditures to end December 2008, published September 7, 2009, accessed in,34401

[6] Source Watch, Reporters Without Borders, accessed in

[7] Ibid.

[8] Diana Barahona, op.cit.

[9] Allen Weinstein, quoted in David Ignatius, Openness is the Secret to Democracy, Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 30 September 1991, pp. 24-25.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

What happens to all that uranium?

What happens to all that uranium?
By Tim Buchholz

May 6, 2010,

The United States, in an effort to be “as transparent as we can be” in the words of Hillary Clinton, recently announced it has 5,113 in its nuclear stockpile, and thousands more retired warheads awaiting the junk-pile.

President Obama recently signed a new agreement with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called The New START Treaty that will reduce current American and Russian stockpiles to 1,550. So I started thinking, “What happens to all that uranium after the bombs are dismantled?”

It seems a lot of the disarming process is merely paperwork. According to an article, “Where nuclear weapons go to die,” by Jeffrey Lewis and Meri Lugo, a nuclear weapon is taken off the active list and put in storage, if it is not there already, or shipped to a company called Pantex in Texas to be disassembled. The authors say that during the Clinton administration, more than 1,000 warheads were dismantled a year, but since 2000, employees at Pantex have spent most of their time “refurbishing operational nuclear warheads to extend their life.” They say there are some 4,000 nuclear weapons waiting in line to be dismantled. But this doesn’t answer the question of where the uranium ends up once the bomb has been taken apart.

I was able to find a program set up between The United States and Russia called “Megatons for Megawatts.” The program is handled in the US by the company USEC, Inc. The company’s website calls the program “a 20 year, $8 billion, commercially funded nuclear nonproliferation of the U.S. and Russian governments.”They say the “program is recycling 500 metric tons of weapons-grade uranium taken from dismantled Russian nuclear warheads (the equivalent of 20,000 warheads) into low enriched uranium used by USEC’s customers to generate electricity.”

The process starts in Russia, where the weapons are dismantled and the weapons grade uranium (HEU) is converted to low enriched uranium (LEU). Then USEC purchases this material from Russia, and sells it to utility companies in the United States. USEC says this program has “significantly enhanced world security by steadily reducing stockpiles of nuclear-grade materials, while creating a clean, valuable resource-uranium for use in nuclear fuel.” They say one in 10 customers in the United States receives this fuel and by the program’s end in 2013, enough LEU will be created to power the entire US for two years.

What if the US did the same thing with our nuclear warheads? Now, get this: we already own this nuclear material. We paid for it the first time when we built the bomb. What if we dismantle our own bombs, just like Russia, and we sell it to USEC, who then sells it to the nuclear power plants? We take the profits, and invest in alternative energy development; creating an energy source to power our transition to renewable resources and the funding to pay for it.

The Pentagon says the US has 5,113 nuclear weapons, and several thousand more retired. Robert S. Norris, a longtime analyst of US and Russian nuclear arsenals, and Hans M. Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists, estimated in a recent Associated Press article that several thousand to be roughly 4,200 retired warheads. This gives us a grand total of roughly 9,313 nuclear warheads. The new agreement between Obama and Medvedev of Russia brings the limits to 1,550.

So, let’s forget about the 70,000 the US is said to have built since the program began, and the 32,193 the US is said to have had at its peak in 1966, and just look at the 9,313 warheads we have to reduce to 1,550. If we comply with this treaty that leaves us with roughly 7,763 bombs that will need to be “retired.” If 20,000 dismantled Russian warheads could power the entire US for two years, this gives us nearly one year’s worth of energy for the entire country, give or take a few megatons.

The International Panel on Fissile Materials says much of the world’s excess highly enriched uranium is held in reserve for nuclear submarines. The US has the largest supply at 128 tons, enough reactor fuel to keep them running for 60 years. The panel says if the US and Russia were to agree to cut their total stockpiles to 1,000 and convert their subs to run on LEU, as most countries are now doing, they could “dispose of perhaps 360 and 700 tons of weapon-grade uranium respectively,” If we could get Russia to sell us their leftovers we would have enough to power the US for over four years.

Let me make it clear that I am not a fan of nuclear energy. I do not see it as the solution for the future. But I am even less of a fan of nuclear weapons. Short of firing them all into the sun, or deep into the earth’s core, two proposed ideas by the way and neither of which sound like that great of an idea to me, how else can we get rid of the nuclear material? Nuclear power does leave us with nuclear waste, which isn’t that much better, but at least it won’t explode and kill millions of people. Nuclear power plants are left storing this waste until a suitable dumping ground is found. The US has been preparing Yucca Mountain in Nevada, but the site has not yet been approved.

How about this?

According to “Recycling Nuclear Fuel: The French Do It, Why Can’t Oui?” by Jack Spencer, The United States’ nuclear power industry has produced 56,000 tons of used fuel, which, if recycled, could power every US household for 12 years. He says the US developed the technology to recycle spent fuel, but banned its use in 1977 over fears of proliferation and cost effectiveness. France, on the other hand, has recycled spent nuclear fuel successfully for 30 years, and the 23,000 tons of spent fuel they have processed could power all of France for 14 years. He says the US has already created enough waste to nearly fill Yucca Mountain, and we haven’t even begun storing anything there yet. Spencer says the French have helped Japan get a recycling program going, and are looking into building a plant in China. He also says that the British, Indians, and Russians all engage in some form of reprocessing. And while recycling fuel does not render it harmless, recycling decreases the harmful levels of nuclear material, and reduces the chances of making it into an effective nuclear weapon.

The French government says that recycling nuclear waste reduces the radioactivity by a factor of four or five by taking plutonium and uranium out of the equation, according to E&E reporter Katherine Ling. She says that the United States has the biggest nuclear power market on the planet, and that Areva, France’s majority state owned complex of nuclear companies, is already building a reprocessing plant in South Carolina with its partner the Shaw Group, with the intent of reprocessing excess plutonium from the U.S. nuclear weapons program. Do you think they will remember who owns that excess plutonium? Many say the US is waiting for the price of uranium to increase, which it has recently, before it begins recycling. But with no approved place to store this waste, maybe it is time they reconsider.

So, the US is sitting on an awful lot of power that the American taxpayer has already paid for, enough to power the entire country for several years, and 12 more if we start recycling. The US is already involved in a program with Russia that converts weapons-grade uranium into nuclear fuel, set to expire in 2013. The United States has agreed to reduce their nuclear weapon levels. The US is also facing massive debt and a constantly decreasing oil supply. If we converted some of our nuclear weapons into low enriched uranium, complying with treaties we have already signed, and then sold it to the power companies just like USEC and Russia does, (or cut out the middleman and sell it ourselves), we could invest that money in alternative energy. Then we use the new energy supply and our recycled waste to make our transition to renewable resources and energy independence.

The safest way to get rid of our nuclear weapons is to use them as energy. How else can we prove that we are really disarming? The question really is, are we serious about disarming? Does the US really mean it when they say they want to see a world without nuclear weapons? If so, they should prove it and actually get rid of some, not just store them away with a few loose screws for quick access. Are we buying the converted uranium from Russia just to know for sure they have less of it? Are we not converting our subs to run on LEU so we can keep more HEU on hand, ready to make into more bombs? If we made this change, it might just help in our negotiations with Iran too. If the United States is really serious about a world without nuclear weapons, let’s take the first step. Turn our weapons of mass destruction into energy for our people, and fix both our economy at home and our reputation in the world.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Pyongyang sees US role in Cheonan sinking

Pyongyang sees US role in Cheonan sinking
By Kim Myong Chol


Despite its strong denial of any involvement and expressions of sympathy for lost fellow Koreans, fingers are being pointed at North Korea over the tragic sinking of the 1,200-ton South Korean corvette Cheonan in the West Sea or Yellow Sea on the night of March 26.

"A North Korean torpedo attack was the most likely cause for the sinking of a South Korean warship last month," an unnamed
US military official told CNN on April 26. Up to 46 of the ship's 104 sailors were killed in the sinking.

Apparently, North Korea is being set up as the fall guy in an incident that is so mysterious that a Los Angeles Times April 26 story datelined Seoul was headlined, "James Bond Theories Arise in Korean Ship Sinking".

So far, no hard evidence has been produced linking North Korea
to the disaster. However, this has not stopped media and experts from holding the North responsible. The South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo wrote on April 29, "It is difficult to imagine a country other than North Korea launching a torpedo attack against a South Korean warship."

Revealing circumstantial evidence
Is it possible that North Korea carried out the daring act of torpedoing a South Korean corvette participating in a US-South Korean war exercise? The answer is a categorical no. The circumstantial evidence is quite revealing, showing who is the more likely culprit.

Mission impossible
There are four important points that make it clear that a North Korean submarine did not sink the South Korean corvette.

Fact 1.North Korean submarines are not stealthy enough to penetrate heavily guarded South Korean waters at night and remain undetected by the highly touted anti-submarine warfare units of the American and South Korean forces. A North Korean submarine would be unable to outmaneuver an awesome array of high-tech Aegis warships, identify the corvette Cheonan and then slice it in two with a torpedo before escaping unscathed, leaving no trace of its identity.

Fact 2. The sinking took place not in North Korean waters but well inside tightly guarded South Korean waters, where a slow-moving North Korean submarine would have great difficulty operating covertly and safely, unless it was equipped with AIP (air-independent propulsion)

Fact 2: The disaster took place precisely in the waters where what the Pentagon has called "one of the world's largest simulated exercises" was underway. This war exercise, known as "Key Resolve/Foal Eagle" did not end on March 18 as was reported but actually ran from March 18 to April 30.

Fact 3: The Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercise on the West Sea near the Northern Limit Line (NLL) was aimed at keeping a more watchful eye on North Korea as well as training for the destruction of weapons of mass destruction in the North. It involved scores of shiny, ultra-modern US and South Korean warships equipped with the latest technology.

Among the
fleet were four Aegis ships: the USS Shiloh (CG-67), a 9,600-ton Ticonderoga class cruiser, the USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54), a 6,800-ton Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, the USS Lassen, a 9,200-ton Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer and Sejong the Great, a 8,500-ton South Korean guided-missile destroyer.

The four surface ships are the most important assets of the two navies, and have multi-mission
platforms capable of conducting various tasks, such as anti-submarine warfare. There is every likelihood that they were supported by nuclear-powered US submarines and a South Korean "Type 214" submarine that uses AIP technology.

The sinking of the Cheonan has made headlines around the world. If indeed it was a US accident, it is an embarrassing indictment of the accuracy of the expensive weapons systems of the US, the world's leading arms exporter. It has also cost the Americans credibility as the South's superpower guardian. Ironically, this has made North Korean-made weapons more attractive on the international market.

The South Koreans and the Americans charging the North Koreans with the sinking of the naval vessel in South Korean waters only highlights the poor performance of their expensive Aegis warships, as well as the futility of the US-South Korean joint war games and the US military presence in Korea.

Fact 4: Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said on March 30 that he doubted there was North Korean involvement in the sinking: "Obviously the full investigation needs to go forward. But to my knowledge, there's no reason to believe or to be concerned that that may have been the cause."

General Walter Sharp, US Forces Korea (USFK) commander, also saw no link between North Korea and the sinking. In an April 6 press conference, he said: "We, as Combined Forces Command and the ROK [Republic of Korea] Joint Chief of Staff, watch North Korea very closely every single day of the year and we continue to do that right now. And again, as this has been said, we see no unusual activity at this time."

No motivation for vengeance
There have been misplaced reports that the sinking was an act of retaliation for a naval skirmish in November last year "in which the North came off worse", as reported by the Times of London on April 22.

As a North Korean navy officer, Kim Gwang-il, recalled on North Korean television on Armed Forces Day, April 25: "[In that incident] a warship of our navy single-handedly faced up to several enemy warships, to guard the NLL ... [The North's warship] inflicted merciless blows on them in a show of the might of the heroic Korean People's
Army (KPA) Navy."

The first duty of the KPA is to prevent war while jealously safeguarding the territorial air, sea and land of the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as this safeguards the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula.

The Korean People's Army Navy would not attack South Korean or American warships unless provoked, since these vessels carry innocent soldiers on the high seas. True, the KPA Navy would be justified in torpedoing a US Aegis ship or a nuclear-powered submarine if one were caught red-handed. But the KPA Navy would not stoop to infringing on South Korean waters to attack a South Korean ship at random, unless it had returned there after committing hostile acts against North Korea.

Friendly fire
Seven facts indicate friendly fire as the most likely cause of the naval disaster. It may be no exaggeration to say that the South Korean president and his military leaders have shed crocodile tears over the dead South Korean sailors.

A torpedo could have been launched from any of the American or South Korean warships or warplanes taking part in the Foal Eagle exercise alongside the hapless Cheonan.

The four Aegis ships and most South Korean warships carry Mark 46 torpedoes, which have improved shallow-water performance for anti-submarine warfare and anti-ship operations.

General Sharp had issued on March 4 a five-point
safety message warning that "a single accident can undermine the training benefits you will receive during KR/FE '10. Remain vigilant and engaged."

It appears that Sharp's warning came true, and the US repeated the kind of friendly fire incident for which it is notorious in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After the ship disaster happened on the night of March 26, Sharp promptly cut a visit to Washington to testify at congress to fly back to Seoul, according to the March 30 edition of Kyonggi Ilbo.

President Barack Obama then called his South Korean counterpart on April 1, ostensibly to express condolences over the ship disaster, but also to offer him the privilege of hosting the next nuclear security summit in 2012, as was reported by Joong Ang Ilbo on April 14.

Obama made this offer one week before he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty in Prague, and two weeks before the 2010 nuclear security summit took place in Washington.

When Obama announced his decision to select South Korea as host of the next major nuclear security summit in 2012, Agence France-Presse reported that "the announcement surprised many". Most observers presumed that Russia would lead the next meeting.

The most plausible explanation is that Obama offered South Korea the summit due to an overriding need to mollify otherwise possible South Korean resentment at the friendly fire sinking, while covering up the US's involvement in a friendly fire torpedo attack. Most probably, Sharp reported to Obama the potentially disastrous consequences of the public discovering the true nature of the incident. This would likely lead to a massive wave of anti-American sentiment and put Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in an extremely awkward situation.

Obama must have felt relieved at the South Korean president's ready acceptance of his offer of compensation. One article carried in the April 14 edition of Joong Ang Ilbo was headlined "Veep Biden Says LMB [Lee Myung-bak] Is Obama's Favorite Man". The comment was made by Biden on April 12, one day before the nuclear summit.

Sharp unexpectedly attended the April 3 funeral of a South Korean rescue diver, Han Ju Ho, who died while participating in the search for missing sailors from the corvette. Sharp was seen consoling the bereaved family in an unprecedented expression of sympathy.

Joong Ang Ilbo reported on April 27 that the South Korean government would deal strictly with rumors rampant on the Internet that a collision with a US nuclear submarine had caused the sinking.

The best solution is for the South Korean government team investigating the ship disaster to find an old mine responsible. It is easy to falsely accuse North Korea, but public pressure will mount for military reprisals against North Korea, which will promptly react by turning Seoul into a sea of fire in less than five minutes. North Korea would not flinch from using nuclear arms in the event of US involvement.....

Old hand points new finger of blame in KOREA....
By Donald Kirk

QUANTICO, Virginia - North Korea has found an advocate in a most unlikely place for its claim of innocence in the sinking of the South Korean corvette the Cheonan on March 26. How about the former chairman and president of the Korea Society, a forum in New York for cultural events, news analyses and policy discussions that's funded in large measure by South Korean conglomerates and the government in Seoul?

That would be Donald P Gregg, a former US Central Intelligence Agency officer who was ambassador to South Korea during the presidency of George H W Bush from 1989 to 1993 after having served him faithfully as his national security adviser during his eight years as vice president. In an op-ed article in The New York Times, Gregg takes seriously a Russian report that the Cheonan somehow "dredged up a mine that then blew the ship up".

Never mind that the waters were too deep for the ship to have hit bottom and no old mine could have split it in two and sunk it in minutes. Instead Gregg pours cold water on the South Korean investigation in which experts from the US and four other countries concurred that the Cheonan could only have been blown in two that way by a torpedo fired by a submarine. "Details of the South Korean investigation of the Cheonan tragedy have not been made public," he writes, forgetting the detailed summary released in May and a complete report already scrutinized by diplomats and journalists.

The real bottom line, which the Chinese and North Koreans will love, is that Gregg holds the US and South Korea responsible for making matters worse. Between them, he says, these two are driving North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il and son and heir presumptive Kim Jong-eun into the arms of the dreaded Chinese, who, bless them, are "far more worried by instability on the Korean Peninsula" than by a nuclear-armed North Korea.

Blame the headstrong Americans and South Koreans, then, for making matters ever worse by wanting to sharpen skills in anti-submarine warfare when, if Gregg's judgment is at all credible, no one knows if a submarine was anywhere near the Cheonan when it went down "under mysterious circumstances".

Given this view, Gregg is no doubt all the more upset by the prospect of two American guided-missile destroyers, a fast-attack submarine and anti-submarine aircraft joining South Korean warships next week in exercises in the Yellow Sea near where the Cheonan was sunk with a loss of the lives of 46 sailors. American ships have been in the Yellow Sea before, but not in such force since the sinking of the Cheonan - and not since the Chinese on any number of levels decried any American naval presence in those waters as a real and immediate threat to the Chinese mainland.

The American entry into the Yellow Sea comes at a critical moment in a pattern of rising tensions in which North Korea, for reasons that have nothing to do with the Cheonan, is falling inexorably under Chinese protection. Kim Jong-il's failing health adds urgency to the quest for massive Chinese aid and investment - and the need to be sure that Chinese leaders will accept Kim Jong-eun as his successor when the North's Workers' Party anoints him, as expected, at an extraordinary session later this month.

Those overwhelming concerns rendered last week's visit to Pyongyang by Jimmy Carter, the former American president, a minor matter. Kim had no trouble fobbing Carter off on his number two, Kim Yong-nam, while running off on an elaborately planned visit across the Yalu River into northeastern China.

Nor was the Dear Leader forced into the role of a mendicant. President Hu Jintao spared him that embarrassment by arriving from Beijing to meet Kim in between visits to the historic haunts of his father, the late Great Leader Kim Il-sung. The whole show, obviously scripted well in advance, relegated Carter's "humanitarian" mission to bring home an American jailbird to the level of a minor nuisance.

This display of Chinese solidarity with poor North Korea, all the more pitiable after floods again ravaged land stripped bare by deforestation, no doubt helped to compensate for the US decision to strengthen economic sanctions - or, as Gregg put it, "sanctions and hostility" that he believed would have "little positive impact".

Gregg did not, of course find it necessary to mention that the strengthened sanctions targeted, among other things, the infamous "Bureau 39", the agency directly responsible for shipping arms, drugs, counterfeit currency and nuclear components and technology far and wide. Rather, his main concern seemed to be that such rudeness would instill "mistrust and hostility" in Kim Jong-eun at a time when the US should have been inviting the kid, still in his 20s and not confirmed to have been photographed since his school days in Switzerland, over to Washington for a getting-to-know-you visit.

Not that "strengthened" sanctions will have that much impact. It does strain credibility to think that father Jong-il and son Jong-eun will suffer from the loss of beloved luxury items of which the sanctions also are intended to deprive them. Those designer sunglasses that the Dear Leader wears on visits to factories and farms should be available along with most everything else in his personal inventory from across the Chinese border. On a larger level, China should also be able to come to the rescue in cases in which economic measures pose a real inconvenience by blacklisting funds frozen in US institutions or banning firms from doing business with firms in cahoots with the North.

As North Korea moves closer to China, however, another danger emerges. China and North Korea now are pressing for the same six-party talks on its nuclear weapons that North Korea had been refusing to attend before the sinking of the Cheonan. Calls for a return to the table parallel rising rhetoric about "all-out war".

That's good news to Gregg, who finds "a growing realization in Washington that alienating China is an inordinately high price to pay for putting pressure on Pyongyang".

Gregg has a soul mate in the form of Jack Pritchard, a former US negotiator with North Korea who's now president of the Korea Economic Institute, an arm of the South Korean government in Washington. "North Korea has no intention of giving up nuclear weapons," Pritchard said at an all-day conference at Marine Corps University in Quantico. But "we have to engage the Chinese" and "hope they will at least take measures" to implement sanctions imposed after North Korea's second nuclear test in May of last year.

Others at the conference saw China in quite a different light. "China's reaction to military exercises reflected China's sense as 'the center of the world'," said Chun Song-whun, senior research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul. "One day, who knows, China might attack the new US base at Pyongtaek," the Yellow Sea port at which the US is consolidating its headquarters and other forces in South Korea. "It's going to be a strategic hub. China might see the base as a threat to the gateway to Tientsin and Beijing."

To Gregg's dismay, President Barack Obama has seemed less willing to compromise than did his predecessor, George W Bush, whom Gregg often compared unfavorably to his father but who did take North Korea off the US list of "terrorist" states. If Gregg's ambivalence on the Cheonan means anything, however, it is that Washington will want to compromise again. The ultimate South Korean fear has always been that of betrayal at the table. "Engagement based on wishful thinking is worse than compromise," said Chun.

In a showdown, "China could be a terrible stumbling block to security and verification," said Kim Doug-joong, professor at the South's Kyonggi University. Meanwhile, he said, "the loss of 46 sailors in the Cheonan incident should be the last casualty of the confrontation of the two Koreas."

Donald Kirk, a long-time journalist in Asia, is author of the newly published Korea Betrayed: Kim Dae Jung and Sunshine.