Mr. Kim Petersen, the co-editor of Dissident Voice, writes a critique of my recent interview with Lawrence Wilkerson. I’m afraid Mr. Petersen overlooks my actual questions.
For example he writes: “The TRNN story presents as fait accompli that North Korea fired a missile that sank a South Korean navy ship. The viewing public, however, is presented no definitive evidence to examine? Has TRNN not learned from previous US lies — for example, about Iraqi WMD — to be skeptical of US statements?”
Let’s establish first of all that this was an interview with Wilkerson, not a news report or a piece of analysis authored by myself. Wilkerson is not presented as a journalist but as the former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell. It’s obvious that he presents his own opinions and not those of TRNN.
I questioned Wilkerson repeatedly about the veracity of his claim that the North Korean’s were responsible. Here are a few of my questions:
JAY: And how do we know that it’s a torpedo? How do we know that the North did it? People are assuming this.
JAY: Now, why would the North do this? The North is denying it. They’re saying that this is being done to facilitate the reelection of the South Korean prime minister. The South has returned by re-designating the North as its main enemy, which—apparently it dropped that phrase a few years ago.
JAY: But why cause a provocation at such a level …
Mr. Petersen writes: Jay asked why would North Korea commit such a horrendous act. Notably, Jay did not pose another question: why would anyone else do it? Thus he omitted other possibilities, such as a false flag?
Petersen neglects to inform his readers that one of my questions was precisely that:
JAY: Is there anyone that gains if war breaks out on the Peninsula? Who’s got to gain from this?
WILKERSON: I can’t find anyone who gains.
JAY: I mean, if you go back to Richard Perle’s book, Perle actually wrote that he thought that the US troops should pull back to the south of South Korea and encourage South Korea to take on and get rid of North Korea.
Doesn’t this question raise the issue Petersen says I omitted?
TRNN allows demonization of North Korea: Wilkerson calls it an “Al Capone country” and a “bankrupt regime.” It is a well-known axiom that people in glass houses should not cast stones. Therefore, if North Korea is a bankrupt regime, what of Wilkerson’s own country’s regime? Is the Obama regime above being described as a “bankrupt regime”? What about the GW Bush regime that Wilkerson served under?
As Mr. Petersen well knows, TRNN has published hundreds of stories that characterize the Bush government as “criminal” and many more that describe the Obama administration as “bankrupt” or words to that affect. In fact, Wilkerson himself has called much of what Bush/Cheney did was criminal (as you will see in an upcoming series of interviews with Wilkerson on Cheney). I don’t think we need to make these points every time another country is discussed or critiqued.
On the day following the publishing of this story, we ran a Al Jazeera debate that included Bjornar Simonsen of the Korean Friendship Association, who said the charges against North Korea were speculation and raised doubts about the evidence that had been presented by the South. He also discussed China’s not condemning North Korea over the sinking of the ships.
In March of last year, TRNN presented a story titled “The cost of empire” which reports on the role of the US military base in South Korea. In this piece we say,
FREESTON: Since that time, North Korea has gone on to announce that it can no longer guarantee the safety of South Korean commercial flights in its airspace. For its part, North Korea claims it is only responding to what it believes to be the region’s real provocative act, March’s US-led war games, an exercise North Korea has condemned as a rehearsal for invasion.
One can always do better, and I think some of the issues Petersen raises are fair enough. It would have been better if I had challenged some of Wilkerson’s cold war assumptions more vigorously. We will do more on the North Korean story in the coming days and attempt to provide a fuller picture of the situation.
I should add this. When Petersen writes that North Korea is simply a ‘socialist country’, a la Cuba, he may lead his readers to assign a level of rationality to a leadership that might not be worthy of it. I would be more likely to label it a ‘xenophobic cult-of-personality in the midst of a catastrophic economic failure’.”