The Way Countries Are Supposed to Act

A line stood out for me on the front page of the Shanghai Daily: “The United States said North Korea’s decision not to retaliate showed it was behaving ‘the way countries are supposed to act.'” (( “N. Korean guns silent as South’s drills go ahead,” Shanghai Daily, 21 December 2010: 1.))

The quotation, presumably from a US official, came across as brash, irrational, and contradictory.

Is sitting in judgment of other countries and making public pronouncements about such “the way countries are supposed to act”? Does this follow diplomatic protocol?

Was South Korea’s live-ammunition military drill on the disputed Yeonpyeong Island (less than 11 km from North Korean shores) an example of “the way countries are supposed to act”?

Given how a similar live ammuntion military exercise by South Korea had triggered shelling from North Korea a month earlier, was this a “reckless military provocation” (as North Korea described it), or was it “the way countries are supposed to act”?

Was South Korea’s firing of 1500 artilllery shells into the sea off Yeonpyeong Is. behaving “the way countries are supposed to act”?

Is the holding of military maneuvres by the US and South Korea in the Yellow Sea that upset China and North Korea “the way countries are supposed to act”?

If China and North Korea had staged military drills (with live ammunition even) a few km off the coast of California, would this be behaving “the way countries are supposed to act”?

Is not living in harmony and peace and refraining from displays of military might by all sides the preferred way for countries to act?

Is the US the standard by which countries should base their actions?

Was kidnapping the elected president of a sovereign country (Haiti), sending him into exile, and preventing his return (in defiance of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights) “the way countries are supposed to act”?

Was conjuring a war pretext and invading a sovereign country (Iraq), laying waste to the land, sending millions of refugees spilling into neighboring countries, and killing over a million citizens “the way countries are supposed to act”?

Is the US’s diplomatically, financially, and militarily supporting the ongoing dispossession and liquidation of an Indigenous people (the Palestinians) by European emigrants (Ashkenazi Jews) “the way countries are supposed to act”?

Is the neglect (no apology, no reparations, and diplomatic coverups) of great wrongs against Africans captured and forced into slavery “the way countries are supposed to act”?

Is the perpetuation of the dispossession — wrought by genocide — of the Original Peoples of Turtle Island and the ongoing consolidation of the lands garnered through dispossession “the way countries are supposed to act”?

Was splitting apart the Korean nation following World War II “the way countries are supposed to act”?

Are these examples of “the way countries are supposed to act” that other countries in the world should follow?

Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at Read other articles by Kim.

6 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on December 22nd, 2010 at 9:18am #

    once u have 700+bases, thousands marine floats circling the planet, nukes that can arrive on korean soil in seconds or minutes [or are already buried there and ready for use], why bother also with duplomacy?
    yes, i said duplo, from which twoply derives. so we cld also call it doublemacy.
    by the way what is korean or chinese word for twofacedeness.
    this last derives from the french dufacade.
    slavs call it dvo-lichnost.
    pal’ns have a word for it also: cento-facada! ok, they borrowed that from romans in 100 before ‘jewish’ arrival there. tnx, sheshe, grazie, gracias, danke, spasibo!

  2. MichaelKenny said on December 22nd, 2010 at 9:21am #

    Beware of the kettle calling the pot black! Isn’t the “dispossession and liquidation of an indigenous people by European emigrants” a definition of the US, Canada and the other post-colonial entities? And at least the Ashkenazi Jews feel the need to base their claim on their own origins, however lacking in validity such a claim may be in international law. The Europeans who colonised the American continent, for example, felt no such need. They took the land because they were a superior race.

  3. bozh said on December 22nd, 2010 at 11:50am #

    ah, yes, supremacism. this monster never changes in appetite. in case of european ‘jews’ or euroasians.

    that includes me. i came to canada when i was 19 yrs old. i saw nutting, knew nutting until i had been 50 yrs old.
    but, then, i was 40 yrs old before i cld say NO to my mom, and 73 before i cld say NO to my wife.
    how about saying NO to canadian govts? i am not gonna tell u because of shame!!!
    i did eventually! that’s what counts even if it was just yesterday.
    how about americans? not even today? right?
    how about u don? eagerly waiting for u to reveaL ur profound secret! tnx

  4. John Andrews said on December 23rd, 2010 at 2:18am #

    Good piece Kim, but you might be overreacting a little.

    I for one don’t know much about the Shanghai Daily’s editorial policies and influences, but there are at least two ways of interpreting the words you cite.

    1. If the paper is significantly influenced by US powers then it might be interpreted as a patronising remark in keeping with a primary school teacher, say, patting her class of six-year-olds on the head for memorising the national anthem i.e. clearly identifying a pattern of behaviour that others should emulate.

    2. If (as more likely) the paper is significantly influenced by the Chinese government, although still patronising, it might be meant as a signal of approval to Pyongyang for showing admirable restraint in the face of what is obviously outrageous provocation.

    North Korea is a desperately tragic country whose situation is a direct result of sixty years of vicious US foreign policy – a foreign policy that would probably have crushed anyone but an Asian nation. No doubt it is a very repressive country, but I’d love to know how a Washington government would behave if the US was unable to trade with anyone for 60 years.

    Good old Michael Kenny. He can always be relied upon to say something of such sublime stupidity that you have to wonder if his day-job is that of comedian. I mean, “The [Europeans] took the [American continent] because they were a superior race.” So gunpowder had nothing to do with it then?

  5. Gary S. Corseri said on December 23rd, 2010 at 11:03pm #

    I, for one, appreciate your ironies, Kim. Good questions… and good writing!

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain said on December 23rd, 2010 at 11:12pm #

    It was reported on the radio here, in an interview with a US scientist who had just visited North Korea and been shown its new uranium enrichment facilities,that North Korea had warned South Korea not to shell its waters, but the fascist stooges of the Empire went ahead. That fact was, of course, immediately and thoroughly suppressed, as the trained hysterics of the ‘Free Press’ went through paroxysms of outrage. Like the sinking of the South Korean frigate, that hit a reef and sank, as widely reported in South Korea, but then was lied about in the fashion of Iraqi WMD, KAL 007, ‘yellow rain’ in Indochina, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident etc etc, the provocateurs and warmongers here are, as ever, the Real Evil Empire and its fascist stooges. The current South Korean regime is directly descended from the military fascists who rule Korea until the 1980s, when Washington decided that a sham ‘democracy without choices’ would be a better look, from the propaganda point of view. This is just another stage of Obama’s plot to encircle and weaken China, and it is hair-raisingly dangerous, but he follows orders like a good little goy, doesn’t he.