Former CIA chief Leon Panetta’s revelation about US nuclear policy on North Korea is a scaremongering tactic to distract public attention and sell his new book, a political commentator and international lawyer says.
In a phone interview with Press TV on Wednesday, Barry Grossman said, “The US routinely plays the North Korea card as if it is the joker in a high stakes poker game, when in reality it is more like the ‘free spot’ in a Saturday afternoon Bingo game for pensioners.”
In his new memoir “Worthy Fights”, Panetta says US war plans against North Korea involve the use of nuclear weapons should communist forces pour across the demilitarized zone (DMZ), dividing North and South Korea.
Panetta recalls a 2010 briefing in Seoul by General Walter L. “Skip” Sharp, the commander of US forces in South Korea, who apprised him of the plans.
“If North Korea moved across the border, our war plans called for the senior American general on the peninsula to take command of all U.S. and South Korea forces and defend South Korea — including by the use of nuclear weapons, if necessary,” the former Pentagon chief writes.
Grossman, who is based on Indonesia’s island of Bali, said, “My first inclination on reading this so-called news was to assume that the absurdity of the US policy on ISIL must be drawing so much heat that the recent carefully cultivated hysteria about the Ebola virus is no longer enough to draw public attention away from both the obvious contradictions in the US Syria/Iraq policy, and the contrived conflict between Turkish President Recep Erdogan and John Kerry which was clearly intended to portray the US as reluctant to attack President Assad but has largely backfired.”
“I suppose we are meant to infer that after the recent press beat up of Kim Jong-un’s supposed disappearance and then his sudden re-appearance, the intelligence apparatus is concerned that something must be amiss in North Korea leadership, with the comments in Panetta’s carefully vetted and timely book being meant to send a chilling reminder to North Korea about US preparedness and commitment to strike back with nukes,” he added.
He went on to say that “it is all bluster in that North Korea has long presumed that the US tactical response plan is as stated by Panetta, even if most Korea experts don’t buy Panetta’s implied claim of standing strategy that involves nukes as a first or second line of defense, as opposed to being a mere deterrent.”
“Most expert opinion maintains that, unlike Panetta’s limpid claim that at least in 2010 he felt a nuclear conflict could erupt in Korea at any time, it is difficult to conceive of a scenario that would see the North trying to spill over the DMZ. The idea that the US would nuke the heavily populated peninsula in the unlikely event it was to happen is also considered preposterous,” he pointed out.
The United States first deployed tactical nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula in 1958, though their presence did not become public knowledge until the mid-1970s.
The Korean peninsula has been locked in a cycle of escalating military tension since the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953. No peace deal has been signed since then, meaning that North and South Korea remain technically at war.
Grossman stated that some people see Panetta’s “scripted remarks as designed to reassure the South of the US commitment to keeping the South safe under the US nuclear umbrella but it is difficult to imagine how your average South Korean could take much comfort in knowing that if a conflict erupted, the US would immediately seize overall command of the combined Korean and US military infrastructure in the region and nuke the peninsula.”
“On the whole, this looks far more like a caper to allow the aging, soon to be octogenarian Panetta to earn some Dineros for his retirement from book sales while, at the same time, making a small contribution to the continuing psyop which aims to keep Americans feeling insecure, ever more in need of Uncle Sam’s massive military foot print around the world, and… [to distract] the public from the US Syria-Iraq operation being sold to an increasingly dubious public as a strategy to ‘snuff out’ ISIL,” he concluded.