The Media’s Brazen Dishonesty About North Korean Nuclear Violations

In its reporting of supposed North Korean “violations”, the corporate media is once again found to be pushing a political agenda, as Gareth Porter explains.

By Gareth Porter

In late June and early July, NBC News, CNN, and The Wall Street Journal published stories that appeared at first glance to shed a lurid light on Donald Trump’s flirtation with Kim Jong-un. They contained satellite imagery showing that North Korea was making rapid upgrades to its nuclear weapons complex at Yongbyon and expanding its missile production program just as Trump and Kim were getting chummy at their Singapore summit.

In fact, those media outlets were selling journalistic snake oil. By misrepresenting the diplomatic context of the images they were hyping, the press launched a false narrative around the Trump-Kim summit and the negotiations therein.

The headline of the June 27 NBC News story revealed the network’s political agenda on the Trump-Kim negotiations. “If North Korea is denuclearizing,” it asked, “why is it expanding a nuclear research center?” The piece warned that North Korea “continues to make improvements to a major nuclear facility, raising questions about President Donald Trump’s claim that Kim Jong Un has agreed to disarm, independent experts tell NBC News.”

CNN’s coverage of the same story was even more sensationalist, declaring that there were “troubling signs” that North Korea was making “improvements” to its nuclear facilities, some of which it said had been carried out after the Trump-Kim summit. It pointed to a facility that had produced plutonium in the past and recently undergone an upgrade, despite Kim’s alleged promise to Trump to draw down his nuclear arsenal. CNN commentator Max Boot cleverly spelled out the supposed implication: “If you were about to demolish your house, would you be remodeling the kitchen?”

But in their determination to push hardline opposition to the negotiations, these stories either ignored or sought to discredit the careful caveat accompanying the original source on which they were based—the analysis of satellite images published on the website 38 North on June 21. The three analysts who had written that the satellite images “indicated that improvements to the infrastructure at North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center are continuing at a rapid pace” also cautioned that this work “should not be seen as having any relationship to North Korea’s pledge to denuclearize.”

If the authors’ point was not clear enough, Joel Wit, the founder of 38 North, who helped negotiate the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea and then worked on its implementation for several years, explained to NBC News: “What you have is a commitment to denuclearize—we don’t have the deal yet, we just have a general commitment.” Wit added that he didn’t “find it surprising at all” that work at Yongbyon was continuing.

A Willful Misreading of Images

In a briefing for journalists by telephone on Monday, Wit was even more vigorous in denouncing the stories that had hyped the article on 38 North. “I really disagree with the media narrative,” Wit said. “The Singapore summit declaration didn’t mean North Korea would stop its activities in the nuclear and missile area right away.” He recalled the fact that, during negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviets over arms control, “both sides continued to build weapons until the agreement was completed.”

Wit: ‘I really disagree with the media narrative.’

Determined to salvage its political line on the Trump-Kim talks, NBC News turned to Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, who has insisted all along that North Korea won’t give up its nuclear weapons. “We have never had a deal,” Lewis said. “The North Koreans never offered to give up their nuclear weapons. Never. Not once.” Lewis had apparently forgotten that the October 2005 Six Party joint statement included language that the DPRK had “committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons….”

Another witness NBC found to support its view was James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who declared, “If [the North Koreans] were serious about unilaterally disarming, of course they would have stopped work at Yongbyon.” That was true but misleading, because North Korea has always been unambiguously clear that its offer of denuclearization is conditional on reciprocal steps by the United States.

On July 1, a few days after those stories appeared, the Wall Street Journal headlined, “New satellite imagery indicates Pyongyang is pushing ahead with weapons programs even as it pursues dialogue with Washington.” The lead paragraph called it a “major expansion of a key missile-manufacturing plant.”

But the shock effect of the story itself was hardly seismic. It turns out that the images of a North Korean solid-fuel missile manufacturing facility at Hamhung showed that new buildings had been added beginning in the early spring, after Kim Jong-un had called for more production of solid-fuel rocket engines and warhead tips last August. The construction of the exterior of some buildings was completed “around the time” of the Trump-Kim summit meeting, according to the analysts at the James Martin Center of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

So the most Pyongyang could be accused of was going ahead with a previously planned expansion while it was just beginning to hold talks with the United States.

The satellite images were analyzed by Jeffrey Lewis, the director whom had just been quoted by NBC in support of its viewpoint that North Korea had no intention of giving up its nuclear weapons. So it is no surprise that the Martin Center’s David Schmerler, who also participated in the analysis of the images, told the Journal, “The expansion of production infrastructure for North Korea’s solid missile infrastructure probably suggests that Kim Jong Un does not intend to abandon his nuclear and missile programs.”

But when this writer spoke with Schmerler last week, he admitted that the evidence of Kim’s intentions regarding nuclear and missile programs is much less clear. I asked him if he was sure that North Korea would refuse to give up its ICBM program as part of a broader agreement with the Trump administration. “I’m not sure,” Schmerler responded, adding, “They haven’t really said they’re willing to give up ICBM program.” That is true, but they haven’t rejected that possibility either—presumably because the answer will depend on what commitments Trump is willing to make to the DPRK.

Kim: Wants reciprocal U.S. responses.

Distortion is the Norm

These stories of supposed North Korean betrayal by NBC, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal are egregious cases of distorting news by pushing a predetermined policy line. But those news outlets, far from being outliers, are merely reflecting the norms of the entire corporate news system.

The stories of how North Korea is now violating an imaginary pledge by Kim to Trump in Singapore are even more outrageous, because big media had previously peddled the opposite line: that Kim at the Singapore Summit made no firm commitment to give up his nuclear weapons and that the “agreement” in Singapore was the weakest of any thus far.

That claim, which blithely ignored the fundamental distinction between a brief summit meeting statement and past formal agreements with North Korea that took months to reach, was a media maneuver of unparalleled brazenness. And big media have since topped that feat of journalistic legerdemain by claiming that North Korea has demonstrated bad faith by failing to halt all nuclear and missile-related activities.

A media complex so determined to discredit negotiations with North Korea and so unfettered by political-diplomatic reality seriously threatens the ability of the United States to deliver on any agreement with Pyongyang. That means alternative media must make more aggressive efforts to challenge the corporate press’s coverage.

This article originally appeared at The American Conservative.

Gareth Porter is an investigative reporter and regular contributor to TAC. He is also the author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear ScareFollow him on Twitter @GarethPorter.

48 comments for “The Media’s Brazen Dishonesty About North Korean Nuclear Violations

  1. Ariel Ky
    July 15, 2018 at 14:12

    Gareth Porter, I appreciate your detailed analysis of the news coverage of developments in North Korea. So many Americans still believe in our corporate news, and take everything they read for gospel truth. Possibly, it’s because the press has traditionally been a guardian of the truth and has provided a way for citizens to stay informed, and check the power of our government. Until most people realize that our mainstream press no longer works in the interest of democracy, Americans will continue to be duped in the “war for the minds and hearts of the people” to support ongoing wars in other countries.

    In this article, you have articulated how the “news” has been distorted. Thank you! I hope your efforts contribute to a final and lasting peace in Korea.

  2. harry kane
    July 14, 2018 at 22:49


  3. Rob Roy
    July 14, 2018 at 21:20

    Good writing, as always, Mr. Porter. Much appreciated.

  4. July 14, 2018 at 20:07

    North Korea could be a great ally….time to give this a chance to work…

  5. some guy
    July 14, 2018 at 16:14

    I find it amazing that the the fake news is the ones who have reporters that actually go to the sources and actually ask questions, and the ones who just state opinion with no real resource is the “real” news. It seems to reason that everyone has some bias to whatever koolade flavor they enjoy. This has alot to do with upbringing, social status, personal history, as well as a ton of other things. But I have always liked the saying that statistics and facts can tell you an elephant can hang off a cliff hanging onto nothing but a dandelion.but common sense tells us different. Lets be reasonable, There is agendas on both sides, but they both play the exact same game. Don’t you think its funny we are nearly split down the middle on anything anymore. Who do you think benefits from this division? Just remember they aren’t Democrats or Republicans, they are politicians, that’s the common thread. I know many politicians, i find it so easy to see how similar they are, when some people think the differences are great. The same goes for non politicians, People are not as individual and different as they want to be or think they are. Until we accept the obvious, that we are in a world where we can make our own thoughts our own reality now, and that perception and feel goodness becomes what we seek. Personal reflection and focus on personal actions should be what we all seek. For those out there who consider themselves in a superior group, an alpha, or just think they have a better bead on things, you probably don’t. I know this sounds a bit off subject, but the weirdness of how people blog, these days truly fascinates me. Its so me against you. I believe our current president is really no different than most others, and he is a microcosm of what we are as a nation. Those who thinks any prevailing philosophy will stick, are just wrong. Even your own steadfast opinions and ideas will change, once the right situations happen that will change them.

    • Mico
      July 17, 2018 at 10:28

      “Personal reflection and focus on personal actions should be what we all seek.”

      Exactly. Well put!

  6. Tom
    July 14, 2018 at 16:02

    You conveniently forgot to mention that Trump has repeatedly touted that the NK nuclear threat is now over since returning from the Singapore meeting. I agree with you that it is unrealistic to expect NK to halt all aspects of their program given that we are months away from an actual agreement. But Trump invites this type of media frenzie with his untruths and exaggerations. Quit giving Trump a pass on his dishonest behavior.

  7. vinnieoh
    July 14, 2018 at 08:27

    I couldn’t care less what CNN, NBC, etc. – all of the msm – say. For this I will rely on my own sense of common sense.

    Why would the DPRK give up what it has sought to accomplish for at least 4 decades? The accomplished goal that finally gave it what it had long desired? International recognition by its greatest nemesis and provocateur – the US?

    I believed that Trump – as usual – over-hyped and over-stated what was “accomplished” at the summit. Some jingoists and US exceptionalists were willing to believe that Kim would just capitulate to US demands. Juvenile. Others, cut out of the bolt of Bolton cloth will always believe that the DPRK is irredeemably duplicitous and scheming. Our intellectually stunted bullies that would see the world destroyed just to say that “we” had “won.”

    Both narratives are intellectually dishonest, and if this does not move forward with truth by its side, it will go nowhere, or it will drive off a cliff. I appreciate Gareth Porter’s writing, but there was only a faint hint of nuance here, where a large dollop was required.

    To be clear: The misinformation began with Trump, et al claiming that Kim had agreed to give up all of DPRKs nukes, just because Trump is Trump. The msm then took it into bizzaro-land.

  8. mrtmbrnmn
    July 13, 2018 at 19:30

    The MSM ain’t biased. It’s worse. They are utterly irresponsible & dishonest journalistic malpracticers! Shameless propaganda delivery devices for this continuing criminal “regime change” operation against the President of the United States. Love him or detest him, the boob was constitutionally elected. There is NOTHING constitutionally legal about this 24/7 attempt to overthrow him. Today’s reverse engineered and concocted “indictment” of 12 more ham sandwiches by the corrupted hack Mueller is just the latest example of this massive criminal enterprise at work. Alas, for America, there is no coming back from this toxic endeavor, whatever its ultimate results.

    ps: Friday the 13th is the appropriate day for this latest tripe to come out. April Fool’s Day would also qualify.

    • Realist
      July 14, 2018 at 02:16

      Precisely. It is certainly no coincidence that Mueller chose to release his accusations against the Russian government officials right before Trump’s summit with Putin. It is clearly an attempt to poison the waters. It’s quite clear that the man given a license by congress to charge the president with treason is the real traitor, sabotaging what could be landmark peace talks, and the media refuse to make any note of it. Rather they continue to imply, using such ammunition as Mueller provides, that the wrong individual is occupying the White House. I have never seen such defiance of a sitting president by most of the establishment, even when that man was Richard Nixon. Why should American government foreign policy receive any respect from the rest of the world when it gets none from within its own jurisdiction? Pathetic performance, America.

  9. elmerfudzie
    July 13, 2018 at 18:14

    The article seems to avoid or dismiss the sacrifices that were carved out of stone with blood and treasure by both South Korean and US ground forces. We need to revisit the intent to secure a, long term, geopolitical posture for the Western Occident and it allies, in South Asia. By the end of 1950, North Korea had seized almost 90 percent of South Korea’s territory. The last stronghold, that remained securely held by our soldiers, the south end of the peninsula, was more than well worth defending. It was the deep water port of Pusan (Busan). Had the port been overrun by the north, that sycophant for the CCP, Kim Il Sung, (Un’s grandpa) would have changed the entire (naval) military posture off his coastline, and we need to revisit the whole issue of the now long forgotten, Pusan Perimeter. Just think, the Chinese perhaps the USSR as well, could have changed that deep sea port (now in South Korean hands) into the largest combined coast guard, thus claiming control over large swaths over the South China Sea, perhaps the Sea of Japan.

    With that brief historical overview said, let’s review again what is at the root of today’s military frictions with the North.

    By the end of 2002, North Korea provoked a new international crisis by restarting its suspended nuclear program. It was the Pyongyang governments’ decision to remove UN surveillance devices at its Yongbyon plant, which were sealed by international agreement, circa 1994. By breaking the cameras tampering seals, and disabling most of the cameras at the site, any back-up to compliance was impossible. We (the western alliance) have no military attache’s, covert Intel agents there or reliable moles! this, resulting in the loss of a sorely needed US foreign aid package, originally tied to monitoring and ongoing compliance.

    Since that time, there has been an effort to make weapons-grade plutonium at the Yongbyon power plant. It may have been recently converted to a Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) plant for purposes of rapid plutonium production.

    A 2012 Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report for Congress, stated that North Korea separated and produced plutonium ranging between 30 kg and 50 kg and used 5 kg to 6 kg of this plutonium to create a nuclear device for the nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. A expert in nuclear proliferation issues, Selig Harrison, said in 2010, that North Korea already weaponized 31 kg of plutonium, Harrison visited the North (back then) and was privately advised by a North Korean government official, that these plutonium stream figures were indeed correct. Further, the CRS report confirmed that they acquired uranium enrichment technologies, and associated equipment (over two thousand centrifuges), in the P-2 class, that can produce 8,000 kilograms/year. How was this technical advancement accomplished in such a short period of time? The congressional report clearly points to the A.Q. Khan network and the possibility that North Korea procured parts and equipment from all over the world using China as a transshipment port. All this tech-speak translates into this; North Korea could have produced 34 kg to 36kg of plutonium as of 2012, enough to possess 6 to 18 nuclear weapons.

    One would think that, if a country is up to doing (nuclear) things on the sly, that they’d be careful not to draw attention to themselves, such as military adventures, right? May I remind CONSORTIUMNEWS readers that, at the very same time, in 2010? the South’s president took full responsibility for failing to protect his citizens from a deadly North Korean artillery barrage on Yeonpyeong Island (that November) The origins of the attack can be traced to a sea border drawn at the close of the Korean War, now unresolved, almost seventy years ago…

    In conclusion, CONSORTIUMNEWS readers can clearly see a pattern forming here, a thread if you will, a great uncertainty compounded by unabated nuclear proliferation, again going back to the yet, still open wound of the Korean War. Long disputed Hot Spots, of territorial contention, like fishing zones, unannounced launches of IRBM capable missiles launched from the North, towards Tokyo and over Japan’s airspace, clandestine dealings with sophisticated criminal gangs such as the A.Q. Khan network. Can we connect the dots here? what will happen should Kim Jung Un be assassinated? fall critically ill for whatever reason? suffer a coup, run off with a fat bribe? would his departure be as orderly as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak departure was? I think not. Riot and political and military purging(s) will be sure to follow (all simultaneously occurring in the hungry populace of North Korea) Who, pray tell, will be watching where those dozen or so nukes end up? and precisely into who’s hands? Perhaps a fanatical North Korean general? or criminal organization? sold to the highest bidders? Will the end stage, corporatist, fascists, of our time, those CEO capitalists (an end stage as Marx predicted) bid for a few bombs to protect their private interests? Perhaps held on an off shore ship, or by some equivalent of Sotheby’s Auction’s-ON LINE!

    • KiwiAntz
      July 13, 2018 at 18:59

      Here’s a solution? North Korea gives up it’s nukes if America does the same! You see the dilemma here? Why should Nth Korea give up their nukes, their only bargaining chip to avoid destruction by America! Why would you trust the US to honor any agreement they sign their so dishonest & always renege on deals! And regarding the Korean War, just in Vietnam, the US had no business meddling in those Countries who were no threat to the American mainland! The US bombed Nth Korea back to the Stone Age but just as in Vietnam it was a miserable failure that proved resistance against a superior Military Force was possible? Every conflict that the US has waged since those two Asian Wars has also been utter failures & they need to get out of the War business as their so lousy at it!

      • elmerfudzie
        July 13, 2018 at 20:29

        Reply to KiwiAntz, By any chance, did you read my commentary? I made some very specific points concerning; who the original aggressors were, what regional strategies were in place during the Korean conflict, possible government officials who turned to the Al Capone’s of this world, to get what they want (under-the table and without international scrutiny). Ask yourself something here, What did the Kim’s offer in return for A Q Khan’s technical help? believe me, it wasn’t just money. There’s a very good chance that his Excellency Kim J Un is now “owned” by a mob network of stealthy, A- bomb proliferaters. Khan’s probably has Un on film and in living color, paying for nukes, by agreeing to move nerve agents or high explosives, biological (CBW) agents into the hands of, presently unknown, terror groups? When you turn to the devil for help, the fine print language in the bargain, may turn out to be much more than his excellency, Kim J. Un could ever have imagined.

        As of late, all I seem to stumble on, are commentaries about an untrustworthy America, what about the Kim’s breaking their sworn assurances and signatory(s) to that 1994 agreement with the United Nations? Whatever is a, Kim anyway? a self anointed king, running an Orwellian totalitarian state, killing off rival family members and running domestic prison camps to keep order inside a starving nation of fearful citizens. Who or what, may I ask, are you, exactly, defending here, sir?

    • Sam F
      July 13, 2018 at 19:07

      We should avoid stirring emotions against NK by recounting US war “sacrifice” that was in fact caused by US blunders. The Korean War did not start with an unprovoked invasion. The US ignored the history that would preclude imposing its will upon Korea without a fight. Korea had been fighting the imperialism of Japan for generations, especially in the north. They had succeeded only by the organization of communism and help of the USSR. If the US had understood and allowed them to triumph and gradually liberalize their government, there would have been no war.

      But Korea was considered a very minor nuisance by the US when everyone went home after the war, so that the US military government was understaffed and reluctant to be there. It found the extreme poverty of the vast majority to be unpleasant and could talk only with the relatively wealthy South Koreans, who had been the despised local imperialist class under the Japanese. So by making allies of the wealthy few, and making vague and careless generalizations, the US accidentally did all the wrong things under the circumstances, for lack of local knowledge and concern.

      After repelling the invasion, the US foolishly marched to the Yalu border near the primary industrial area of China, laughing off warnings passed to Truman via India, then-militarized China saw imminent war and decided to fight that in Korea, pushing the US back to the original border. The US then bombed every village in North Korea, killing over two million innocents for no benefit whatsoever, pretending that the invasion was unprovoked, and covering its blunders with hysterical anti-communism.

      While “the Cold War” was seen domestically as containment of the USSR, that strategy made little sense in Korea and Vietnam, where Russian and Chinese influence supported anti-colonial and socialist revolutions that did not threaten interests of the people of the US, but merely interests and preferences of its oligarchy.

      Throughout the Cold War, the US military and primitive tyrants in politics turned anti-communism into a totalitarian belief system that served no one but themselves.

      It was the US that provoked the nuclear program restart after 2002; the US had cut off negotiations.

    • Sam F
      July 13, 2018 at 22:19

      I suggest further examination of the popular notion of the origins of the Korean War.

      We should avoid stirring emotions against NK by recounting US war “sacrifice” that was in fact caused by US blunders. The Korean War did not start with an unprovoked invasion. The US ignored the history that precluded imposing its will upon Korea without a fight. Korea had been fighting Japanese imperialism for generations, especially in the north. They had succeeded only by the organization of communism and help of the USSR. If the US had understood and allowed them to triumph and gradually liberalize their government, there would have been no war.

      But Korea was considered a very minor nuisance by the US when everyone went home after the war, so that the US military government was understaffed and reluctant to be there. It found the extreme poverty of the vast majority to be unpleasant and could talk only with the relatively wealthy South Koreans, who had been the despised local imperialist class under the Japanese. So by making allies of the wealthy few, and making vague and careless generalizations, the US accidentally did all the wrong things under the circumstances, for lack of local knowledge and concern.

      After repelling the invasion, the US foolishly marched to the Yalu border near the primary industrial area of China, laughing off warnings passed to Truman via India. Then-militarized China saw imminent war and decided to fight it in Korea, pushing the US back to the original border. The US then bombed every village in North Korea, killing over two million innocents for no benefit whatsoever, promoting the myth that the invasion was unprovoked, and covering its errors with hysterical anti-communism.

      While “the Cold War” was seen domestically as containment of the USSR, that strategy made little sense in Korea and Vietnam, where Russian and Chinese influence supported anti-colonial and socialist revolutions that did not threaten interests of the people of the US, but merely interests and preferences of its oligarchy.

      • elmerfudzie
        July 14, 2018 at 15:01

        Reply to Sam F. Perhaps you missed my main point. Had the US and South Koreans lost the deep water port of Pusan to the North, the entire military configuration of South Asia would have changed. A totalitarian, Orwellian state and family, who conjured up their authority with the “Baekdu bloodline,” now known as the, Kim dynasty would have taken possession of a unique deep water seaport. Both the USSR and China would have used it as a springboard to dominate the South China Sea and the Sea of Japan. Thankfully, that never happened and today the port is a hub of maritime commercial activity, based on democratic beliefs and close financial and military alliances.

        To voice the opinion that thirty three thousand U.S. and one thousand British soldiers sacrificed their lives for “a very minor nuisance” seems to be be at the very least a flippant remark if not an arrogant twist to what was our very best intentions for the South Korean peoples, for that era of recent history. The era, I refer to was of course, the “cold war”. This kind of war has finally come to an end however it does have a present day, shadow and that shadow is nuclear proliferation. Our nation must never repeat the error(s), political or military, that permitted the Pakistani and Israeli A bombs to become a reality.

        By the way, I felt a good deal of emotion in your responses as well and they were, in my opinion, used to stir up a certain degree of self righteousness and indignation among the so called “anti-imperialists”. Hundreds of thousands of people, (in and out of uniform) die in wars of aggression and wars for the sake of national defense. This is a truism of history, example the Dresden Germany and London bombings. Death tolls in themselves cannot be manipulated to make it appear that the western Occident was or is any less moral that the “eastern block” was at that particular moment in history. The USSR’s Stalin, China’s Mao Zedon, Hitler, Pol Pot were all mass murderers. Historically, we can look back to the Hundred Years’ war or even further, the Peloponnesian War. It’s the same story for basically the same reasons. The question is, as always, which system of government to you believe in and whom do you want in power.??…Frankly, I’m so glad for all of Asia’s pacific rim citizenry, it’s not the Kim dynasty !!!

        • Sam F
          July 14, 2018 at 16:15

          I do not mean to be at all careless or disrespectful of the many lives lost. I should have said “when everyone went home after WWII” instead of “after the war”. In fact the US did not even bother to send a skeleton military government to Korea for weeks after Japan’s surrender, and had almost no one there for months. It was a complex and very unhappy situation, no one wanted the job, and it was done very carelessly, with vague goals unrelated to their history, and with self-defeating expedients.

          I seek to understand the US wars in SE Asia, not to rationalize any preconceptions. There is much infelicity in recognizing regional social processes and historical forces that may at times block what others feel is the shortest path to a better solution. Whereas the popular narrative of these wars seeks only to explain the disasters by blaming everyone else.

          We stepped onto a yellowjacket nest in Korea after WWII, for simple lack of understanding, and our casualties do not justify that. We allied with the upper class, forced controlled elections upon them, and denied the majority the victory they had fought for. Truly the US had no idea what it was doing by stepping into the shoes of colonial powers after generations of anti-colonial revolution, claiming that we were establishing democracy while in fact aligning with existing exploitative economic structures.

          By constantly harassing Cuba, NK, et al, the illusion is quite deliberately created that their governments have impoverished and militarized them. No, only the US has done that. To see this is not to accept that their governments are better, but merely to put the blame where it lies. This is US policy and it would not be so if they did not fear that those governments would do rather well otherwise. Look at China for example. With the benefit of hindsight, of course, we can see that it would have been far better to leave them alone, and gradually show them that they need some competitive markets for efficiency, and that without our military harassment and subversion, they can open up government to democracy.

          That took generations in Russia and China, but if we had cooperated instead of confronting them, it would have been a lot quicker and the result today would be far better.

          • elmerfudzie
            July 14, 2018 at 17:55

            Reply to Sam F: Any inroads towards peace and prosperity remains an excellent ideal. However there are several considerations to ponder, some old and some new. Examples; the rise of China and the Thucydides Trap. The same trap England experienced with the rapid rise of German industrialization, thus precipitating world war two. This fact is compounded by a very recent and seemingly unconnected new area of concern, artificial intelligence or AI. Allow me to crystallize this problem as concisely as possible, by applying a somewhat crude parable here, taking excerpts from a vintage Hollywood movie: The movie, Fail Safe. It was a 1964 film, based on a fictional cold war international crisis. I’ll never forget one particular moment in the situation room, where Russell Collins, cast as Gorden Knapp, a top weapons engineer, struggles to explain to Pentagon brass and the President how the whole misadventure began; Quote: “the more complex an electronic system gets, the more accident prone it is, sooner or later it breaks down….sometimes they get tired, like people” end quote. Not to wander too far off the original point or thread here but AI compounds our war worries in a very dramatic way. AI may not only “get tired” but make wrong, illegal or un- programmed decisions and will make those decisions, independent of any human control, on the battlefield, with atomic warheads that can only function with AI technology. This parable of mine doesn’t stop here. The Fail Safe movie begins with a Soviet jamming devise that blanketed “NORAD” and all ground to air radio communication. What pray tell, does this remind you of? It should shaken you as it did me, when, Putin displayed his new warfare technologies, one of them, the Khibiny Electronic Warfare System. In brief, it deactivated all radar and launch systems on the USS Donald Cook during patrols in the Baltic, and two years ago, this same new technology was applied against our Alaskan NORAD defense system-with the same stunning result, a complete breakdown of an entire regional defense system!

            If there ever was a cause the United Nations should ally itself to, it’s a total ban on AI weaponry.

            The Thucydides Trap, AI, “rigged” scarcities of food, water and a real over population problem, have all come together, will seal our collective fate and now, ushers world war three into view.

            I will consume my second beer, straight away! Pray brother, pray, it’s the very last….hope.

          • Sam F
            July 14, 2018 at 20:16

            Yes, elmer, many in the US are indeed experiencing the Thucydides Trap, the fear of rising powers. I see the post-WWII US as a parent dealing with adolescents, which it might have done far better had it been experienced. But SE Asia, the Mideast, central Europe, and Latin America were more like a four-ring circus of warring gangs of adolescents, which only a busy expert peacemaker could have influenced productively. Unlike many parents, I don’t think we have learned from the experience.

            Interesting view of AI and complexity as factors in military instability. As an AI person and engineer of high reliability non-military systems, I agree, but human error is always at the root of system failures. For example, the multiply-redundant critical system will fail once in a thousand years with no unusual human error, but somewhere one fails every day, due to the operator trying to prove to friends that it cannot fail, while it is engaged in critical operations under heavy loads, by pulling out boards and forcing the system to do intricate acrobatics of disaster recovery until it is finally overwhelmed.

            As complex systems become more abstractly defined, even without AI, fashionable theories of design take over from hard-nosed engineering. I took risks in the 90s trying to convince designers to simply not use internet connections to critical systems so as to avoid hacking. But no, they must have the convenience of field service from anywhere to sell the machine, so they allow critical vulnerabilities.

            I will join you in a drink to the future, directing my hope and prayers to public education and debate.

      • Ariel Ky
        July 15, 2018 at 14:20

        Sam F, thank you for setting the record straight. Most Americans cannot tell you the reason the Korean War started, let alone what the U.S. was doing there.

  10. Bob Van Noy
    July 13, 2018 at 17:13

    A relatively vibrant Press was modified violently in the days and weeks following November 22, 1963. Some careers were enhanced, some lives were lost. If some contemporary student of History or Journalism wanted to study the decline of American Democracy they might begin by reading all of the linked article below about a Journalist named Penn Jones…

    • JWalters
      July 13, 2018 at 20:39

      Interesting read and interesting site. Thanks for that link.

  11. Drew Hunkins
    July 13, 2018 at 16:51

    off topic:

    The smartest and most articulate liberals in the room are walking around this afternoon with a smug sense of self-satisfaction now that the Winter Hill Gang’s boy, Mueller, has come up with something they think they can hang their hat on (fat chance). It’s bizzaro world extraordinaire; it’d all be rather comical if it we weren’t dealing with a chance of Armageddon. How long with Moscow continue to be a stoic punching bag?

    Of course if Americans could actually critically think they’d understand the timing of this Rosenstein/Mueller/MIC/DNC charade: all timed obviously to monkey wrench the potential for cordial relations between Putin and Trump. The MIC wouldn’t want any sort of detente between the two biggest nuclear powers the world has ever seen, no, the MIC would rather have Eastern Europe akin to a tinderbox, with rising tensions meaning fatter stock portfolios and bigger contracts. Maddening.

    • strngr-tgthr
      July 13, 2018 at 17:37

      From what I am reading they caught Vladimir Putin red handed with very sofisticated spearfishing technology that hacked the uncrackable Democrat Passwords. And now Trump is going to meat his “Handler in Helsinki!”on Monday… well well – all are together now! As far as the summit goes, Trump chose this date and never checked with Mueller, so he deserves to be blindsided. He should be checking in with Mueller regularly, until he is cleared Trump should consider himself like under parole and checking in with his parole officer, witch is Mueller.

      • anon
        July 13, 2018 at 18:23

        From what you are reading or what you are drinking? What a fool’s fantasy!

        • Drew Hunkins
          July 13, 2018 at 18:43

          Hi anon,
          I’m thinking he was being facetious. Or at least I hope he was.

          • anon
            July 13, 2018 at 19:21

            If so I apologize, but I’m not at all sure.

          • July 13, 2018 at 21:30

            No. strngr-tgthr is not being facetious. strngr-tgthr from previous comments is clearly one of these Russiagaters who is convinced that Mueller is our savior.

          • Rob Roy
            July 14, 2018 at 21:03

            You think? Hmmmmm. Dunno.

      • Realist
        July 14, 2018 at 02:25

        Yeah, yeah. We’ve heard it all before, Hillary. Yet no real evidence is ever presented. This seems more like Mueller, who never stops playing insider politics, taking the opportunity to poison the waters in the Trump-Putin summit.

    • mike
      July 13, 2018 at 17:51

      Very astute observation. I agree wholeheartedly.

  12. Joe Tedesky
    July 13, 2018 at 16:38

    Nothing worse than ‘the boy who cried wolf’. Like the boy who cried wolf the messenger will lose the listening audiences respect, and there by their message if ever there is the real deal, their sounding alarm will go on ignored.

    I was just saying the other day to my grandchildren of how there was a time when our media wasn’t so bias. That once upon a time there was a media who basically just reported the news, with little to no commentary. You would think that with CNN & MSNBC being sworn enemies of Trump, and Fox being likewise sworn enemies to the Democrat’s that an independent news outlet, an outlet which would report only the news without a bias commentary would do great…okay then where is it? Where in this free capitalistic society is this alternative media…. I mean in the MSM, not on the ever famous ‘fake news’ internet, the Wapo deemed phony and subversive. Oh thank you big brother for protecting us citizens from the fakery and slight of hand.

    Talk about a rigged system.

    • KiwiAntz
      July 13, 2018 at 18:43

      Your dead right Joe the MSM used to just report the news, but now they create the news & fake news at that!

    • Rob Roy
      July 14, 2018 at 21:10

      Try “NHK Newsline from Japan.” It’s pretty much the purest news on tv. Just the facts related in a calm manner.
      (None of that raging partisan stuff, like Rachel Madow, or Fox News, for ex.)

      [BTW, NHK also produces the best show on tv, “Asia Insight,” very different story every episode, concentrating on one spot in Asia and one idea or issue. Very interesting.]

  13. Jeff Harrison
    July 13, 2018 at 16:38

    What was it that Sgt Joe Friday used to say? Just the facts, ma’am. The other phrase that comes to mind is The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you, God. Leaving major bits out is not the whole truth and pushing an opinion out as fact is anything but the truth. And people wonder why I look at the MSM as a propaganda organ of the regime in Washington.

  14. Sam F
    July 13, 2018 at 16:21

    It was nearly inexcusable that the US “misunderstood” the entire anti-colonial movement after WWII, claiming that any anti-colonial revolution forced to use communist organization was a threat to the US. But in fact there was no misunderstanding.

    In fact now it is clear that the US military is an enemy of the United States, stealing most of its discretionary budget for activities of zero value to the US, and causing genocides around the world for four generations. The US military is the worst enemy of the United States.

    We could re-purpose 80% of the military to international aid projects that would have lifted the poorest half of humanity from poverty. But perhaps it is better to abolish the entire US military, a completely worthless and anti-democratic gang, making economic war against the United States, and making enemies for the US around the world, which is treason.

    • mike
      July 13, 2018 at 17:49

      re-purpose 80% of of our military spending and instead just handing out those billions upon billions of dollars to 3rd world countries? Yeah, that’s just what China and Russia would love. I can’t imagine the chaos in the world if we’d take your moronic advice.

      • Sam F
        July 13, 2018 at 18:10

        You neglected to mention how the “chaos” would be anywhere but in the imagination of warmonger media, and why anyone would care whether China and Russia would love that. The problem is belief in imaginary enemies.

        Be careful about your sources, don’t accept notions of foreign enemies without hard evidence. It takes work, but you can do it if you care for truth and justice.

        • MBeaver
          July 14, 2018 at 06:13

          There are always enemies who would see a behavior like that as weakness and they would exploit it.
          Not to mention help like that only makes things worse. Thats what people should have learned by now, after what happened in the last few decades. You only take away possibilities and the will of them to help themselves. For example they wont ever be able to build a strong economy if we sell them all kinds of cheap stuff from outside.

          However, I agree, somewhat, that we dont need THAT much spending on military. You can be strong without regime changing and invading everywhere on the world.

    • Spike
      July 13, 2018 at 18:09

      The ramifications of the worldwide use of all those resources by national militaries during the past seventy years rather than on international aid are stupendous, and needs to be discussed so much more than it has been.

      • Sam F
        July 13, 2018 at 18:18

        If the US had spent the billions wasted on war since WWII, on building the roads, schools, and hospitals of the developing nations, we would have eliminated poverty for the poorest half of humanity, a true American century, and we would have no enemies. Instead we have willfully killed over six million innocents for nothing, 20 million killed indirectly, have destroyed democracies and replaced them with dictators, and have allowed the MIC/Israel/WallSt oligarchy to control our former democracy with campaign bribes, and to control mass media to promote violence as patriotism, promiscuous surveillance, and militarized police. They have destroyed America and have spent all we could borrow on destruction for their personal gain. We have the lowest per capita foreign aid of all developed nations, almost all of it military “aid,” a total of less than one meal a year for the world’s poorest.

        Yet apart from NATO and a few other treaties, the US would have no constitutional power to wage foreign wars, just to repel invasions and suppress insurrections, and that is the way it should be. NATO has been nothing but an excuse for warmongering since 1989.

        • July 14, 2018 at 05:58

          Sam, Is it not what the idea is behind the “silk road” China and Russia are fare more advanced than the policy makers in the western world. China and Russian are not perfect but they are smarter.


    • KiwiAntz
      July 13, 2018 at 18:47

      Sounds like a good plan Mike, unfortunately it’s never going to happen as these psychopaths are just making too much money from this racket, called war profiteering! So they will beggar the Country either by bankrupting it or destroy it by inadvertently starting a Nuclear war!

    • Rob Roy
      July 14, 2018 at 21:16

      Sam, maybe, but first, how about taking the military budget and giving everyone who wants it, work in rebuilding the infrastructure of this country (roads, bridges, schools, public electrical, sewer and water systems), giving free healthcare and education to all, and having a universal basic income. Sound like a lot? Nope, it could all be done with the military budget which is used for no good purpose all over the world. We have created and are in 76 conflicts in 39 countries.
      (I have come to hate the USA.)

  15. July 13, 2018 at 15:50

    I think Mr. Porter makes the point without spelling it out that the least trustworthy of the two parties when there leaders are pursuing possible rapprochement is the United States. The media negativity is a sign that any move to demonstrate our good faith will be resisted with the already in place narrative that it is the North Koreans that cannot be trusted. If the President intends to move forward in good faith, and tries to take steps which will test North Korea’s good faith, he’s got a touch row to hoe. Those who don’t want an agreement will insist that North Korea act first, a ploy to scuttle any effort to denuclearize the peninsula and secure a lasting peace between North and South Korea.

    The only reasonable hope is for the Koreans themselves to seize the initiative and pressure the United States to leave the peninsula. I think North Korea and Europe are facing a similar problem, how to cast off the yoke put around their necks by the United States. .

    • Sam F
      July 13, 2018 at 16:56

      Yes, now we need Trump to demand that Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt “pay their own way” so dearly that they will cast off the yoke of US imperialism. Same with Ukraine and Poland.

  16. mike k
    July 13, 2018 at 15:11

    The MSM represents the oligarchs who fatten on war preparations. They hate peace anywhere it raises it’s head. We live in a Warfare State.

    • mike
      July 13, 2018 at 17:53

      Mike K., no doubt.

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