September 16, 2017 - No. 28

Parliament Opens September 18

Trudeau Government Continues to
Expand U.S. Authority Over Canada


In Memoriam

Stuart Monro

June 15, 1938 - September 7, 2017 

With profound sadness we inform you that our comrade and friend Stuart Monro from the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) passed away on September 7 at the age of 79. His death is a sad loss to his family, comrades, colleagues and friends, including to the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), who had profound working relations with Stuart through RCPB(M-L).

Stuart was one of the main film and video-makers who recorded the activities of  founder and leader of CPC(M-L) Hardial Bains in Britain, when Comrade Bains was organizing against state-organized racist attacks in the 1970s and '80s and when, as Chairman of the World Kabbadi Federation, he presided over Sports and Cultural Festivals attended by thousands of people in the 1980s. Besides all of Stuart's other achievements during the last thirty years, he became CPC(M-L)'s principal videographer in the 1990s during extensive conversations with Comrade Bains, also in Britain, on the Retreat of Revolution and in defence of the Party principle of democratic centralism as well as against state-organized anarchy and violence in Punjab and India and in defence of rights by virtue of being human. Stuart also worked as part of a team to record the proceedings of the 7th and 8th Congresses of CPC(M-L) and important events in the life of the Party, teaching the younger generations about film and video-making.

Part of his legacy is a series of videos he produced based on poems by Hardial Bains, including one based on the poem Something is Calling Now, Move On. We are providing this video titled Dawn in honour of Stuart and his ever timely and invaluable contribution to our work.

We convey our deep condolences to Stuart's partner Charlotte, his daughter Anna, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and his family and friends.

For the In Memoriam of the RCPB(M-L), click here

Growing Opposition to Treasonous Measures
- Charlie Vita -
Status of National Security Legislation

Make Canada a Zone for Peace!
Negotiations to "Modernize" NORAD -- Dismantle NORAD!
- Margaret Villamizar -
Nefarious Parliamentary Defence Committee Meeting to Study
Perceived "Threat" from DPRK

- Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) -
Hearing Reveals Irrational Determination to
Escalate War Preparations

- Hilary LeBlanc -

Demand the U.S. Sign a Peace Treaty with Korea
Oppose the Ninth Unjust and Illegal UN Security Council
Resolution Imposed on the DPRK!

- Philip Fernandez -
Hands Off the DPRK! No to U.S. War Preparations
on the Korean Peninsula!

- CPC(M-L) and Korean Federation in Canada -
Actions Against U.S. War Preparations on the Korean Peninsula


War with North Korea Cannot Be Contained
but Must Be Prevented

- K.J. Noh -

Aftermath of Hurricane Irma
Hurricane Irma Relief & Reconstruction for Cuba Campaign
- Isaac Saney, Canadian Network on Cuba -
Appeal to Our Fighting People
- Raúl Castro, President of the Republic of Cuba -
Irma, a Hurricane to Remember
- Orfilio Peláez, Granma International -
Six Questions About Hurricane Irma, Climate Change and Harvey
- Sabrina Shankman -

150th Anniversary of the Publication of the First Volume of Das Kapital

Parliament Opens September 18

Trudeau Government Continues to Expand
U.S. Authority Over Canada

Parliament will resume for the fall sitting on Monday, September 18 and sit until Friday, December 15. Media commentary is filled with talk that because October 15 will mark the mid-way point in the election mandate for the Trudeau government, everything is now geared to complete its agenda so as to start its bid for re-election in 2019. With the media putting the focus on the cynicism of this move, attention is drawn away from the most aggressive anti-national measures being taken by the Trudeau government to show the U.S. government and private interests involved in the defence industry that Canada is a "willing partner" that can be counted on to do their bidding.

According to the monopoly-owned media, the "main thing" Canadians should consider going into the new sitting of Parliament is that the economy is "roaring nationally," with "much higher than expected growth" and "eight straight months of job gains." This is meant to distract the working people from having their own point of view and independent thinking and voice. The major focus of the government in the coming months is to further deprive the people of what belongs to them by right in terms of all those aspects of life that contribute to the security of them and their families and to integrate Canada into the United States of North American Monopolies so as to create a Fortress North America behind Canadians' backs. Anti-pension legislation[1] and the renegotiations of NAFTA[2] and NORAD, as well as all kinds of measures to deprive the Indigenous nations of their right to be are part of this.[3]

The major focus of the government in the coming sitting will be on the secret negotiations with the U.S. and Mexico over NAFTA. In this context, the Liberals are attempting to put in place various legislative measures that will expand U.S. authority and jurisdiction over Canada and hand over decision-making to the monopolies in the resource and defence industries as well as those delivering all social services and carrying out infrastructure projects. In this regard, Canadians can expect their pension funds to finance P3s.

The Liberals have a number of pieces of legislation dealing with Canada-U.S. relations that they need passed so as to ensure they are in sync with what the U.S. wants in terms of controlling Canada's borders, its spy and police agencies and environmental regulations that affect the exploitation of Canada's natural resources. In addition, the Trudeau government is engaged in preparing conditions to increase U.S. control over Canada in the name of modernizing NORAD, including embroiling Canada further in the U.S. missile defence system.

The government has also now extended Canada's military mission in Iraq under U.S. command and provided the Canadian general overseeing the mission, General Jonathan Vance, with greater "flexibility," in line with U.S. President Trump's executive order that gives field generals "greater flexibility" to operate as they see fit. This "flexibility" makes them unaccountable for whatever crimes they decide are necessary.

The more the Liberals condemn "Trump's hate" and present themselves as the biggest champions of women, Indigenous peoples, peace and even the working class of Mexico and the United States, the more treasonous their actions. Attempts to provide a cover of legitimacy for the expansion of U.S. imperialism's control over Canada's territory, resources and people during this sitting of Parliament only underscore the need for Canadians to take up the agenda of political renewal so that the working class constitutes the nation and vests sovereignty in the people.


1. For coverage related to this anti-pension legislation, see Workers Forum, September 18, 2017.

2. See Workers' Forum, May 11, 2017 and TML Weekly, September 2, 2017.

3. The next issue of TML Weekly (September 23) will address these measures.

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Growing Opposition to Treasonous Measures

Although the Liberals present themselves as the champions of consultation and listening to the public, they are currently pushing to have Bill C-23, An Act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States passed as soon as possible by the Senate despite Canadians' opposition. The bill gives U.S. security agents greater authority in Canada through the expansion of preclearance at Canadian customs and immigration facilities. Prior to rising for the summer, the Liberals used their majority to pass Bill C-23 in the House of Commons. It is now in the Senate at second reading.

But the CBC reports that the Liberals are facing opposition to their attempts to pass Bill C-23. One week after its coverage on the legislation, CBC reported that the government received "an avalanche of criticism" in the form of letters and calls to Members of Parliament. Between February 10 and February 20 alone letters from the public ran to 777 pages, according to the CBC.[1]

In an effort to ensure that the Senate does not think twice about passing the treasonous law, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. David McNaughton pressured the Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee to pass the legislation quickly. "Please hurry it up, because I'm a bit embarrassed. I leaned on the Americans so heavily and now they're coming back and saying, 'Where's yours?'" MacNaughton told Senators in June.

MacNaughton was referring to the fact that the U.S. Congress passed legislation required to give U.S. officers greater powers in Canada and that Canada has yet to hup-to and permit these powers to be enforced.

The Liberals are in contempt of Canadians' views on such an important matter. When Canadians were "consulted" by the Harper government on how they wanted Canada to be integrated into the United States following the Obama and Harper government's signing of Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, a majority of those who responded to the various aspects of this program stated that they did not want any expansion of U.S. security agents operating on Canadian soil. This included important stands by organizations representing First Nations who affirmed that their sovereign rights over their territories have not been ceded to the Canadian government and it has no right to hand this over to another foreign power.

The Trudeau government and the Canadian ruling elite's push to expand the operation of U.S. agents in Canada in the form of preclearance reveals that they are unfit to govern the land called Canada. That they are going all out to pass these arrangements while telling Canadians that preclearance has always existed and so they need not worry about its expansion, is tantamount to treason. The more the Liberals talk about being progressive and about Canadian values while they pass such measures reveals the urgent necessity for the working class to take up its own nation-building project and declare itself the nation and vest sovereignty in the people.


1. CBC provides the following examples of letters it received expressing opposition to the bill:

"I have been a dyed-in-the-wool Liberal, but you lose my support if you pass this bill," wrote one person from Burlington, Ont., on Feb. 12.

The same morning, a Coquitlam, B.C., resident warned that after reading about the bill, they now "regretted any financial or political support I've ever given the federal Liberal Party in the past, and have resolved, until I see this one modified to prevent detentions of Canadians or permanent residents, never to support your party again."

"I have voted Liberal all my life but will do everything to bring this government down if this bill is passed or any version of it," wrote another.

"It infringes on our rights as Canadian citizens by allowing a U.S. authority to detain Canadians while on Canadian soil," wrote a British Columbian. "While I am sympathetic to the needs of national security, I find that this is another frightening step to one more impingement of our sovereignty."

"If I try to cross [the border]," wrote another, "and the questioning is heavily weighted on my background, my religion, my personal beliefs about anything, is uncomfortable, or causes me to fear for my own safety, I should be able to unequivocally say, 'You know what? I've changed my mind, I don't think I want to fly to Atlanta today,' pick up my bags, and leave."

"Given how U.S. citizens and green card holders were turned out based on their religion last month, I don't believe my fears of being detained and questioned are unfounded," wrote a resident of Hamilton, who described themselves as a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S.

A Calgary letter writer was concerned about interviewing for a visa in order to take a job offer from a company in Florida. "I am terribly afraid that this bill will hurt my chances of potential employment. The fact that an American border agent can arrest me on Canadian soil for walking away from an interview, which is what this bill would enable, deeply disturbs me!"

Another wrote "[...] the Americans have the right to protect their country they don't have the authority nor should they to detain Canadians on Canadian soil. This authority should not even be considered."

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Status of National Security Legislation

Picket in Montreal, July 5, 2017, against Bills C-51 and C-59.

In the most recent sitting of Parliament, which ended June 21, the Liberals passed legislation to establish their National Security "oversight" committee of parliamentarians that will be appointed by the Prime Minister's Office to oversee all government ministries and agencies dealing with national security. The creation of a new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), with Bill C-22 An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts, was the main proposal from the Liberals after they voted in favour of the Harper Conservatives' Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 while in opposition. They claimed that the only problem with strengthening the police powers of Canada's spy agencies was "oversight."

This law now brings Canada into line with the other "Five Eyes" countries -- Australia, New Zealand, the UK and U.S. -- in establishing a mechanism to provide elected officials with access to secret information so as to try and give the violation of rights by spy agencies a veneer of legitimacy.

With the passage of this legislation the committee will be established; the chair, Liberal MP David McGuinty, has already been appointed by Prime Minister Trudeau. The committee will be made up of nine members -- two from the Senate and seven from the House of Commons (with a maximum of four members from the governing party in the House of Commons) -- that would be appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The committee, whose members will all be sworn to secrecy, will be used to claim that Canadians need not worry what the spy agencies of Canada and the other Five Eyes are doing as this committee is overseeing them.

Who is overseeing the committee as well as the government as a whole, however, is left hidden. As in all matters of importance, the Liberal government is making decisions based on what it is told or permitted to do by the government of the United States and the private interests engaged in building Fortress North America to as to secure the U.S. striving for world hegemony.

With this legislation passed, the government is moving to ensure that new arbitrary powers for the police and spy agencies -- both those contained in Harper's Bill C-51 as well as new ones put in place by the Liberals -- are codified through the passage of Bill C-59, an Act respecting national security matters which sits at second reading.

An important stand was taken by the the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) on June 22, which analyzes Bill C-59's aims. The legislation "broadly expands secret police powers and proposes to enshrine these and the powers of previous security bills as part of the rule of law and make them constitutional," CPC(M-L) pointed out. The Party decried the claim of the Liberals that changes to existing laws proposed in Bill C-59 "support the consistency of these powers with the [Charter of Rights and Freedoms]," saying that this merely shows that the Charter itself is subordinate to the police powers and their 'reasonable limits' as decided by the state, not the people."

The article called on Canadians to say "No to Bill C-59" with the same spirit that they did to Bill C-51.[1]

One of the ongoing pickets in Vancouver to demand repeal of Bill C-51, January 31, 2017.


1. See the full statement from CPC(M-L) here.

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Make Canada a Zone for Peace!

Negotiations to "Modernize" NORAD --
Dismantle NORAD!

At the same time as official secret negotiations are being held to "modernize" or "update" the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), negotiations are also taking place to "modernize" the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), starting with consultations on a new defence policy with representatives of the U.S. government.

A crucial matter under consideration is for Canada to invest billions in upgrading the radar systems used by NORAD and officially permit U.S. missiles to be based in Canada as part of Canada joining the U.S. missile defence program. Instead of being straightforward with Canadians and letting them decide this matter, the Trudeau government on June 7 spoke vaguely about "modernizing" and "renewing" NORAD. This "buys time" so that the government can sort out behind the backs of Canadians how to submit to the demands of the U.S. and the monopolies engaged in war production.

There is nothing modern or new about giving a foreign power military control over your own national territory or being beholden to a protection racket. Claiming that any of this is about "defending North America" hides what it is that is being defended. NORAD is an instrument for the U.S. to occupy and control Canadian territory, similar to the way it uses NAFTA to dominate Canada's economy. NORAD's aim has not changed since it was established during the Cold War. The Liberal plan to "modernize" NORAD is a plan to invest billions of Canadians' funds into new radar and sensing equipment that will be used by the U.S. military to build fortress North America and use it to threaten the rest of the world. The "negotiations" are about what technology and how much will be required to "protect North America."

This was clear is the August 30 report carried by Canadian Press: "The Liberals promised in their recent defence policy that the North Warning System, as it is called, would be upgraded following talks with the U.S. about ways to improve continental security.

"But while the policy promised an extra $62 billion for the military over the next 20 years and was touted as being fully costed and funded, no money has been earmarked yet for replacing the radar system.

"National Defence's top financial officer, Claude Rochette, says the department could not account for the cost because Canada and the U.S. have not decided what they actually need.

"'It's still a discussion that needs to be done before we get guidance [from government],' Rochette told the Canadian Press in an interview.

"'When we have guidance, then we will start looking at the options ... then we will start looking at costing. But that is not covered in the funding.'"

The term "modernize" is used to present this as a natural progression, as opposed to what it is: the deliberate and calculated destruction of any limitations on the operation of the monopolies and on placing the people, resources and territory of Mexico and Canada under the control of U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Homeland Security. The Trudeau government presents itself as the antithesis of the Trump administration and talks about a "give and take," to get Canadians to accept what they otherwise would not. When it comes to the country's sovereignty one does not talk about "give and take." You either defend it or you don't.

Canada must not be a base for U.S. missiles and sensors.

NORAD must be dismantled, U.S. troops and equipment must be removed from Canadian soil, and all institutions which place the U.S. in command of Canadian forces and Canadian territory and infrastructure must be dismantled.

Propaganda to Join the U.S. Missile Defence System

Liberal MP Mark Gerretsen (Kingston and the Islands), who is a member of the Standing Committee on National Defence, is being widely quoted in the media as egging on the government to join the U.S. missile defence program. For Gerretsen to advocate this so openly suggests he has the backing of powerful forces in either the Trudeau government and/or the Canadian military or U.S. private interests involved in war production, or all of the above. Other current and former high-ranking Liberals and government officials who are linked with the U.S. in various ways are also taking part in this orchestrated disinformation campaign to integrate Canada into a Fortress North America which pushes the U.S. striving for world hegemony as a means of escaping its all-sided crisis with economic crisis at the base.

Former Canadian diplomat to the United States Colin Robertson said, "I think [the committee meeting to assess the threat from North Korea] is significant, but my gut would be it's probably a steam-venting exercise in the parliamentary committee. But perhaps something may come of it because they will hear from witnesses who will -- my bet is most of them will say, we should look at this [joining the U.S. missile defence system]."

Liberal MP John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood), former parliamentary secretary to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said, "There's clearly a change in circumstances since 2005, changes in capabilities, in threat assessment and I think the committee is potentially an excellent venue to air out those concerns."[1]

Long-time Liberal MP Wayne Easter (Malpeque) is quoted as saying, "It's time for a discussion, [on joining the U.S. missile defence system]," adding, "It is not [just] a question of a defence shield over North America; it's the ability to further enhance your aerospace industry." Easter is Co-Chair of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group and also a member of the Queen's Privy Council as a former Minister of Agriculture.

Liberal Senator and retired general Roméo Dallaire has given open support for joining the program. The Canadian Press quotes him on August 24 stating, "Canada should join the ballistic missile defence program. We currently cannot put a hand on our heart and say that it will be used to help us should something happen. Feeling that [the U.S.] would respond is quite different than having it somewhere on paper and being able to hold them accountable to respond should Canada be targeted.

"Budgets cannot be ignored and the Americans realize the budgetary limitations that we have and the scale of our financial investment in national defence. But we're talking security, we're talking new capabilities, we're talking about potential technological spinoffs and advances."

Dallaire indicates that through discussions on upgrading NORAD that he believes ballistic missile defence will come back. He is often held up as the "humanitarian general" and champion of peacekeeping and the imperialist "responsibility to protect" doctrine. His public support is clearly meant to show that Liberals who oppose war and U.S. missiles in Canada should view missile defence as a matter of protecting Canada and supporting Canadian industry, rather than as submitting to the United States and its war agenda.

Former Liberal Defence Minister David Pratt who is also reported saying Canada should join the program, said, "The discussions have to be restarted to find out what the U.S. would be looking for and whether or not it would be in Canada's interests to proceed."[2]


1. John McKay remains Chair of the Canadian Section of the Canada-United States Permanent Joint Board on Defence. The Board is one of the many arrangements through which the U.S. military operates to decide what takes place in Canada. It is made up of both political appointees such as McKay as well as military officials from both countries. According to the Department of National Defence, "In recent years, the Board has proven effective as an alternate channel of communication, one through which the resolution of difficult issues has been expedited. In particular, it has helped devise imaginative solutions to the types of problems encountered by both countries, such as cost-sharing in an era of declining budgets."

No doubt having Canada officially join the missile defence program and allocate billions towards its upgrade in the form of new sensors and installations in response to "new threats" would be considered an "imaginative solution."

2. David Pratt is a promoter of increased "interoperability" with the U.S. military. As Minister of Defence from December 12, 2003 to July 19, 2004 under Prime Minister Paul Martin, Pratt advocated for Canada's participation in the U.S. anti-missile system despite broad opposition. In January 2000, he wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell expressing "Canada's deep commitment" to "increased government-to-government and industry-to-industry cooperation on missile defence." He said NORAD should be "a key focus of our co-operation in missile defence" and that Canada wanted to "move on a expedited basis to amend the NORAD agreement to take into account NORAD's contribution to the missile defence mission." NORAD, Pratt explained, would provide a "mutually beneficial framework to ensure the closest possible involvement and insight for Canada, both government and industry, in the U.S. missile defence program." Following an unsuccessful attempt to regain his seat from Conservative MP John Baird in the 2008 federal election, in 2009 and 2010 Pratt spent over five months in U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Iraq working for the Iraq Legislative Strengthening Program, a U.S. International Development (USAID)-sponsored program.

(Huffington Post, Hill Times, The Canadian Press)

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Nefarious Parliamentary Defence Committee
Meeting to Study Perceived "Threat" from DPRK

Toronto picket, one in a weekly series of pickets, demands "Hands Off DPRK!" August 16, 2017.

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) decries the decision of the Standing Committee on National Defence to meet September 14 to "undertake a study of Canada's abilities to defend itself and our allies in the event of an attack by North Korea on the North American continent."

The House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence met on August 22, in an emergency meeting to consider the request for this meeting submitted by Conservative MP James Bezan, supported by the NDP. The original motion was changed based on an amendment from Liberal MP Mark Gerretsen to have the hearing in public rather than in camera.

The final motion passed by the Committee with the support of all three so-called major political parties with seats in the Parliament states:

"That, given the recent developments in North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities, the committee conduct a public hearing before Parliament resumes with government officials and subject matter experts to further understand Canada's current threat assessment of North Korea and Canada's abilities to defend itself and our allies in the event of an attack by North Korea on the North American continent using intercontinental ballistic missiles, conventional weapons and/or non-conventional weapons of mass destruction."

The three parties should explain to the people why they think that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), a small country thousands of kilometres away, would want to attack Canada or the United States "using intercontinental ballistic missiles, conventional weapons and/or non-conventional weapons of mass destruction." Many countries possess similar weapons as those mentioned in the motion. Why do these politicians consider the DPRK's possession of these weapons a threat to Canada? The DPRK has attacked no one and has not threatened anyone. It has consistently said it will defend itself from attacks, including the brutal naval and air blockades imposed by the United States.

The U.S. and its military allies have deployed massive military forces of mass destruction in and around the Korean Peninsula and in Japan, and regularly carry out war games on the Korean Peninsula simulating an invasion of the DPRK. The DPRK has quite legitimately armed itself in defence of its sovereignty, as the U.S. could carry out a sudden attack at any time, something it has already done with devastating consequences against Korea in 1950 and has shown itself willing to do against any country that does not submit to its demands.

Why would the DPRK want war with the U.S. or be "begging for war" as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN so crudely put it? Such an assertion is based on anti-communism and blatant racism against an ancient people who have consistently suffered Japanese and U.S. colonial invasion of their territory since 1911.

The DPRK has consistently said it wants a peace treaty to replace the 1953 Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War. The U.S. refuses to sign a peace treaty. It even refuses suggestions from China and Russia to abandon its war games on the Korean Peninsula to ease tensions, and instead is threatening those two countries by installing in South Korea its most sophisticated anti-ballistic missile system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD).

Every time the DPRK makes a step towards peaceful reunification with the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the south, the U.S. intervenes to wreck the arrangements. The entire scenario of a perceived threat from the DPRK is a diversion to take the people away from seeing that the U.S. is the aggressor in East Asia as part of its campaign for global hegemony. The U.S. has a thousand foreign military bases around the world threatening everyone, while the DPRK has none.

Canada's parties with seats in the House of Commons could at least acknowledge that Canada is a member of the U.S.-led forces still at war with the DPRK since 1950. As part of making Canada a zone for peace, the government should be pressuring the U.S. to sign a peace treaty with the DPRK to replace the armistice. Instead, the motion and study by the Defence Committee throws fuel on President Trump's threat of "fire and fury" directed not just against the DPRK but all Koreans and the entire world.

As a participant in the Korean War, Canada must abide by the terms of the Armistice Agreement and pressure the U.S. to do the same. The armistice banned the introduction of reinforcing weapons into Korea. In direct violation, the U.S. stationed nuclear weapons in south Korea starting in the 1950s and continues to surround the Korean peninsula with its nuclear-armed warships, submarines and aircraft. After 64 years, the U.S. still refuses to sign a peace agreement and pledge not to invade the DPRK.

Liberal MP Gerretsen's comments show the intent of using the hearings as a diversion from striving for peace to striving for war. He says, regarding the study by the Standing Committee on National Defence, "I think there is a lot of public interest in this and the public will want to be made aware of the exact questions that we have. I think these are questions that are top of mind for a lot of Canadians. That's why I think it's very important that it be conducted in such a way that it gives the greatest access to the public receiving the information."

Whatever questions Gerretsen says are top of mind for Canadians are not the questions that are top of mind for Canadians. They are a diversion from the real problems the people face both at home and abroad, including the problem of how to achieve peace without resorting to the use of force. The motion itself shows that the three parties with seats on the National Defence Committee are not interested in informing their members and Canadians about who is the aggressor and who is the victim on the Korean Peninsula. They do not start from a position of how we can contribute to the peaceful resolution of conflicts internationally. On the contrary, the Committee seeks to use its standing to stir up anti-communist and racist divisions amongst Canadians by presenting the DPRK as a maniacal threat to Canada while in fact the U.S. military threatens the entire Korean Peninsula and the world with nuclear annihilation.

From the members' comments, the Committee hopes to use the hearings to incite hatred against Korea and Koreans and present arguments that Canada should join the U.S. missile defence program further embroiling Canada in U.S. war preparations. Canadians should resolutely reject these preparations for war. Canadians must not allow these politicians to spout their warmongering unopposed. Join together to oppose the warmongering of the Government of Canada and the Standing Committee on National Defence of the House of Commons and to make Canada a zone for peace!

(Photos: TML)

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Hearing Reveals Irrational Determination to
Escalate  War Preparations

The House of Commons Committee on National Defence hearing on September 14 concerning "Canada's capabilities to defend itself and its allies in the event of an attack by North Korea on the North American Continent" reveals the extent to which the anti-communist and colonial outlook of the ruling circles in Canada towards the Korean and other peoples of Asia blinds them and makes Canada a factor for the outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula and a possible third world war. The ruling circles are so blinded by their hatred for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and its ability to stand up to the U.S. imperialists that they have defined this as a threat to world peace and security to be eliminated.

The topic of the House of Commons Committee hearing presupposes that the DPRK poses a threat to Canada so as to justify joining the U.S. missile defence. In fact, the hearings revealed that Canada is playing a stepped-up role in threatening the DPRK, leading a charge to enforce new UN sanctions -- acts of war under international law -- as well as participating in U.S. war exercises to threaten all of Korea.

The main focus of official government presenters was 1) to slander the DPRK's political and economic system without any evidence or discussion; 2) to obsess over the DPRK's missile, rocket and nuclear capabilities; and 3) to question whether sanctions against the DPRK -- defined as a tool of diplomacy despite being acts of war -- are "working" or it is time to "increase pressure." What was meant by "working" was not defined. Such questions seemed to be raised for the purpose of sowing doubt about the use of sanctions in the face of the DPRK's refusal to submit to U.S. demands, with the implication that it is time to consider more aggressive actions. Another focus of the presenters was Canada's relations with the United States through NORAD and whether the U.S. would defend Canada from a hypothetical missile attack.[1]

During the first panel of government officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defence, it was revealed that when Canada's National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Trudeau, Daniel Jean, travelled to the DPRK in August, representatives of the DPRK's foreign ministry made it clear that it perceived Canada as a peaceful and friendly country. Stephen Burt, Assistant Chief of Defence Intelligence, Canadian Forces Intelligence Command reported that his command does not sense a direct threat to Canada from the DPRK and repeated that the DPRK says it does not see Canada as an enemy but as a peaceful and friendly country. In outlining the nuclear and military capacity of the DPRK, he noted that the DPRK is seeking peace on the Korean Peninsula and it believes that having a nuclear deterrent is the most "stable and reliable" way to achieve this.

Certain Conservative Party MPs and government officials insinuated that these must be just "words" from the DPRK. In one case, Conservative MP Erin O'Toole seemed not to comprehend what he had heard, and raised doubts about the DPRK's intentions, noting that Canada was part of the Korean War which has not yet ended and how does this "play into the threat [from the DPRK]."

Burt responded by reiterating that there is no indication that the DPRK perceives Canada as an enemy and no evidence it is taking measures to target Canada. He also sought to assure O'Toole that, despite this, Canada is still a significant participant in the "UN Command" with six personnel deployed on the Korean Peninsula, the third largest country to participate in the exercises annually with the U.S., South Korea and others, "to ensure we have a vigilant posture." In other words, Canada has not abandoned its aggressive posture. "So it's a part of the world we take seriously and we committed our people and resources to," he added.

Another Conservative MP asked how could it be that the Koreans don't see us as a threat when Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has said "When our allies are threatened we are there." The clear reference is to the United States. "Support" likely means that Canada would join the U.S. if it launches an attack against the DPRK.

All peace and justice-minded people in Canada must make it clear that the Government of Canada must end its aggressive stance towards the DPRK by ending its participation in U.S.-led war exercises and the enforcement of sanctions, and demand an official end to the Korean War, in which Canada is a participant.


1. Presenters to the hearings

Panel 1

Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade: Mark Gwozdecky, Assistant Deputy Minister, International Security and Political Affairs; Sarah Taylor, Director General, North Asia and Oceania.

Department of National Defence: Stephen Burt, Assistant Chief of Defence Intelligence, Canadian Forces Intelligence Command.

Panel 2

Department of National Defence: LGen Pierre St-Amand, Deputy Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD); MGen Al Meinzinger, Director of Staff, Strategic Joint Staff; MGen William F. Seymour, Chief of Staff Operations, Canadian Joint Operations Command.

Panel 3

As individuals: Michael Byers, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia; Danny Lam; Colin Robertson, Vice-President and Fellow, Canadian Global Affairs Institute; Robert Huebert, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Calgary (by videoconference).

As individuals: James Fergusson, Professor, Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba; Andrea Charron, Assistant Professor, Political Studies, Director of the Centre for Security Intelligence, University of Manitoba (by videoconference); Andrea Berger, Senior Research Associate, Middlebury Institute of International Studies (by videoconference); Peggy Mason, President, Rideau Institute on International Affairs.

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Demand the U.S. Sign a Peace Treaty with Korea

Oppose the Ninth Unjust and Illegal UN Security Council Resolution Imposed on the DPRK!

Toronto, August 26, 2017

On September 11, the 15-member United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed Resolution 2375 against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) for testing a hydrogen bomb on September 3 that could be delivered by an intercontinental ballistic missile. The hysteria at the UNSC and in the monopoly media covers up that these measures are part of the DPRK's program to arm itself against ongoing U.S. military threats and war exercises openly aimed at regime change. This is the ninth such resolution since 2006 engineered by the U.S. imperialists in a desperate attempt to hide the fact that they themselves are the cause of all the political problems on the Korean peninsula including the nuclear crisis.

Detroit, August 16, 2017

All peace and justice-loving people in Canada and around the world must resolutely denounce this latest sanction against the DPRK with a clear conscience because it is based on disinformation about and against the DPRK and turns truth on its head. The sanctions resolution is itself an egregious violation of the UN Charter and the rights of the DPRK as a member state of the UN to protect itself when threatened, and to affirm its sovereignty and independence.

The resolution does not address the simple fact that the DPRK has repeatedly called -- twice this year alone -- on the UN Security Council, which is mandated to uphold peace in the world, to intervene to stop the massive, annual and ongoing U.S.-south Korea war exercises, Key-Resolve/Foal Eagle in April and Ulchi-Freedom Guardian in August to no avail.

The resolution notes piously that the UNSC is reiterating "its desire for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the situation, and reiterating its welcoming of efforts by Council members as well as other Member States [of the UN] to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue." The resolution conveniently hides that the main instigator of the resolution, the U.S., has rejected the DPRK's peaceful and diplomatic solution to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula by committing to end the build-up of its nuclear self-defence arsenal if the U.S. simultaneously stops the annual joint military exercises aimed against it. Additionally, the DPRK has on numerous occasions called on the U.S. to sign a peace treaty to replace the Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953 and begin to normalize relations. Are these not diplomatic and peaceful solutions that the UNSC should endorse?

The resolution expresses "deep concern at the grave hardship that the people in the DPRK are subject to, condemns the DPRK for pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles instead of the welfare of its people, while people in the DPRK have great unmet needs, and emphasizes the necessity of the DPRK respecting and ensuring the welfare and inherent dignity of people in the DPRK" (emphasis in the original).

This outrageous accusation against the DPRK is beyond the pale. The plain truth is that from the beginning of the Korean War in 1950 to the present, the U.S. has imposed economic and political sanctions against the DPRK to punish it for defeating the U.S forces in the Korean War and forcing the U.S. to sign the Armistice Agreement. It has also pressured Canada, Australia and other countries under its influence to follow suit -- a blatant violation of the DPRK's sovereign right to establish fraternal bilateral relations with other member states of the UN for mutual benefit and causing the DPRK to suffer trillions of dollars in lost revenue and challenges in building a self-reliant economy.  This longstanding economic and political embargo against the DPRK -- the longest against one country in the world to date -- in addition to the previous eight rounds of UNSC sanctions, constitute together the biggest and longest violations of the collective right to be of the people of the DPRK.

San Francisco, August 15, 2017

Resolution 2375 also hides the fact that the DPRK has repeatedly stated to the monopoly media, at the UN and to anyone who will listen that it would prefer to use its financial resources to raise the standard of living of its own people, but in the face of U.S. military threats and nuclear blackmail, it has been forced to build its self-defence nuclear arsenal to ensure its own survival, independence and sovereignty, as well as to maintain an equilibrium on the Korean Peninsula.

Despite all this, the DPRK government works very hard to ensure that the rights to housing, health care, a livelihood, education, security in old age and other rights are guaranteed to its citizens. This is more than can be said of other countries that currently comprise the UNSC, beginning with the U.S. where "grave hardships that the people are subjected to" are widespread. This includes economic uncertainty, violations of people's basic rights to food and shelter, widespread unemployment and underemployment that violate "the inherent dignity of people."

The latest sanctions against the DPRK will not solve the political problems on the Korean Peninsula but will only create more tensions and force the DPRK to take counter-measures in order to affirm its right to be. It is unconscionable that the UNSC, which has been turned into a weapon of big power politics and imperialist war, is doing this to a small independent country which is exercising every inch of its capacity to seek a political solution to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula and is pushed further into a corner by the big powers. It does not bode well for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

It is the duty of all peace and justice-loving people in Canada and around the world to stand with the Korean people and the DPRK in thwarting all efforts by the U.S. imperialists and their allies in Canada and elsewhere to justify these illegal sanctions and war preparations. They must demand that the U.S. immediately sign a peace treaty with the DPRK, remove all economic and political sanctions against that country and that the UNSC repeal all nine illegal, unjust and immoral sets of sanctions against the DPRK!

For Your Information

Albuquerque, New Mexico

The UN Security Council passed its ninth sanction resolution against the DPRK on September 11 aimed at punishing the DPRK for carrying out its sixth nuclear weapons test on September 3. Besides the five permanent members -- Russia, China, Britain, France and the U.S. -- the current non-permanent members each serving a two-year term are Bolivia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Sweden, Ukraine and Uruguay.

It was the U.S. that engineered this resolution as it did the previous eight resolutions passed by the UNSC against the DPRK. The media reported that U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley had been working feverishly behind the scenes to bring forward the harshest sanctions possible, including a total crude oil embargo, sanctions against the DPRK airline Air Koryo and so on. There was pushback from China and Russia. The U.S. also wanted a ban on coal from the DPRK exported to Russia via the DPRK's Rajin port but Russia objected. Thus the resolution had to be "watered down." One can only imagine the kind of pressure the U.S. put on the other members such as Ethiopia, Bolivia, Egypt, Senegal and Uruguay.

The main features of UNSC Resolution 2375 include:

1) a ban on all natural gas exports to the DPRK;

2) a limit of 2 billion barrels of refined petroleum products to be supplied, sold or transferred to the DPRK per year starting in 2018 (representing a cut of over 55 per cent according to the U.S. mission to the UN);

3) a total ban on textile and textile-related exports from the DPRK;

4) a freeze on any new work permits to be given to DPRK workers contracted to work abroad, except in cases where they are doing humanitarian work, or "denuclearization work" or as approved by the UNSC;

5) an asset freeze and travel ban for Pak Yong Sik, a member of the Workers' Party of Korea Military Commission;

6) an asset freeze on three departments of the Workers' Party of Korea: the Military Commission, the Organization and Guidance Department and the Propaganda and Agitation Department;

7) the ability of member nations to request permission to board and search DPRK ships in their waters on suspicion of carrying "weapons of mass destruction"; and

8) a ban on member states engaging in new joint ventures with DPRK companies.

The U.S. imperialists are crowing that their resolution was passed unanimously to suggest that UNSC members all gave their full support to the U.S. Nikki Haley tweeted on September 11, "The UN Security Council unanimously adopted the strongest sanctions ever against North Korea: #15-0." However, paragraph 21 of the resolution itself tells a different story and calls on " all Member states to redouble efforts to implement in full the measures in resolution 1718 (2006), 1874(2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013) 2270 (2016), 2321 (2016) 2356 (2017) 2371 (2017) and this resolution and to co-operate with each other in doing so..." This indicates that there is definite resistance to these unjust sanctions amongst the UN member countries, a large number of whom do not like the high-handed, arbitrary, and selective behaviour of the U.S. or the UN Security Council.

Picket, August 11, 2017, outside the White House in Washington, DC.

(Source:, Xinhua, Photos: Code Pink, ANSWER, Workers' World, D. Kauffman)

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Hands Off the DPRK! No to U.S.-War Preparations
on the Korean Peninsula!

Public meeting in Toronto demands peace, justice and the independent reunification
of Korea, June 17, 2017.

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) and the Korean Federation in Canada join in resolutely opposing the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2375, the ninth unjust and illegal resolution that has been imposed on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) since the first one in 2006 -- all targeting the DPRK's "nuclear weapons program." We call on all peace and justice-loving people in Canada and around the world to take a stand for peace and resolutely oppose these sanctions and demand that all nine sets of them be withdrawn, and that the U.S. immediately cease its extremely provocative joint military exercises on the Korean Peninsula, its nuclear blackmail of the DPRK, and take up the offer by the DPRK to sign a peace treaty.

The DPRK is not the aggressor on the Korean peninsula. The U.S. is the aggressor. The UN resolution slanders the DPRK, a member state of the UN, for "nuclear weapons proliferation" and violating previous UN sanctions against it. It accuses the DPRK of callous disregard for the well-being of its people while building up a nuclear arms arsenal which threatens peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and region. The resolution itself is a piece of disinformation aimed at preventing the people of Canada and the world from drawing warranted conclusions from the facts and their own experience of U.S. imperialism. Namely, the U.S. is the most dangerous imperialist force in the history of the world, armed to the teeth with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, which holds the whole world hostage to its dictate and commits illegal coups, invasions and occupations, including the brutal crimes of the Korean War. The resolution also ignores that the DPRK has on a number of occasions told the UNSC to intervene to stop the illegal U.S.-south Korea joint military exercises, and points out that it has been forced to build its nuclear missile deterrence capacity because of the ongoing nuclear blackmail and military threats from the U.S. Furthermore, these UNSC sanctions are the longest and deepest violation of the human rights of the people of the DPRK as they are aimed at crippling its economy and creating material hardships for the people.

The resolution does not mention the fact that the DPRK has sought a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the political crisis on the Korean Peninsula by offering to stop its nuclear weapons development program if the U.S. simultaneously agrees to end its ongoing joint military exercises with south Korea and Japan -- Key Resolve/Foal Eagle in April-May, and Ulchi-Freedom Guardian in August. The DPRK has also proposed a peace treaty with the U.S. to replace the Korean Armistice Agreement that ended the fighting in the Korean War as a means to normalize relations. The U.S. has rebuffed such proposals which clearly shows who is the aggressor on the Korean Peninsula.

The DPRK has participated in six rounds of Six Party Talks from 2003 to 2009 to de-nuclearize the Korean Peninsula but each time an agreement is reached, no sooner the ink is dry on the joint statement, than the U.S. sabotages the agreement with some high-handed action or demands that the DPRK must act first before the U.S. does.

The U.S. has clearly shown no interest in a peaceful resolution to the Korean crisis or peace on the Korean Peninsula itself which is the demand of the Korean people and all humanity.

Demonstration in Seongju, Korea against the deployment of THAAD missile defence batteries,
September 6, 2017.

The recent, underhanded deployment of four Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile defence batteries in south Korea by the U.S., despite the massive opposition of the Korean people, as well as China and Russia, demonstrates clearly that the U.S. has no intention of leaving the Korean Peninsula.

UNSC Resolution 2375, engineered by the U.S. through its domination of the UN Security Council, like the other eight such resolutions against the DPRK, will not bring peace or stability to the Korean Peninsula. It will only heighten the already tense atmosphere and bring the possibility of a nuclear Third World War even closer.

The Canadian people and the world's peoples are greatly concerned about the situation on the Korean Peninsula but in order for peace to prevail there, it is the hand of the U.S. imperialist warmongers that has to be stayed. The U.S. must be stopped in its drive for another Korean War. Only the organized opposition to U.S. military exercises, the repeal of the illegal, high-handed, and unjust UNSC sanctions against the DPRK, the removal of 30,000 U.S. troops and the closure of its 90 military bases in south Korea can bring peace. As well, the U.S. must conclude a peace treaty with the DPRK immediately!

Canadians must also oppose the warmongers in the Trudeau Liberal government. On September 3, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated:

"Canada unequivocally condemns North Korea's nuclear test of September 3 which, combined with its aggressive program of ballistic missile testing, represents a clear and present threat to the safety and security of its neighbours and the international community....We urge the UN Security Council to take further decisive action to effectively constrain North Korea's proliferation efforts, and call on all states to fully implement relevant UN sanctions...We will continue to work with key regional partners -- including the United States, South Korea and Japan -- as well as the broader international community, to counter the North Korean threat."

This statement is a provocation and an act of aggression against the DPRK, and the opposite of what the Canadian people want -- peace on the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere. The Canadian people must resolutely stand with the people of Korea, defend peace on the Korean Peninsula and organize for an anti-war government in Canada. We call on everyone to organize actions and pickets to oppose U.S. war preparations on the Korean peninsula and Canada's participation in it.

Withdraw UNSC Resolution 2375 Against the DPRK!
Hands Off Korea! U.S. Troops Out of Korea!
U.S. Must Sign a Peace Treaty with the DPRK!
Make Canada a Zone for Peace!
Organize for an Anti-War Government!

(Photos: Tongil News, Xinhua)

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Actions Against U.S. War Preparations
on the Korean Peninsula

Toronto, May 31, 2017

CPC(M-L) and the Korean Federation in Canada are calling on all peace and justice-loving people to join weekly pickets in Toronto and organize other actions to oppose U.S. war preparations on the Korean peninsula and the unjust and illegal U.S.-engineered UN Security Council sanctions imposed on the DPRK on September 11. They are calling on everyone to resolutely condemn the Canadian government's warmongering and provocations against the DPRK, an affront to both the Korean people and the Canadian people who desire peace on the Korean peninsula. The Trudeau Liberals must not be permitted to embroil Canada in the internal affairs of the Korean people and provoke another U.S.-led Korean War!! It must not pass! Step up the work for an anti-war government in Canada which will stand for peaceful and fraternal relations with all nations and peoples of the world. For information: (647) 907-7915 or email the Korean Federation in Canada:

Wednesday, September 20 -- 5:00-6:00 pm
Ontario Superior Court (across from U.S. Consulate)
361 University Ave.

Wednesday, September 27 -- 5:00-6:00 pm
University of Toronto
North West Corner of Harbord and St. George St.

Wednesday, October 4 -- 5:00-6:00 pm
Ryerson University
South East Corner of Yonge and Gould St.

Wednesday, October 11 -- 5:00-6:00 pm
George Brown College
200 King Street East

Wednesday, October 18 -- 5:00-6:00 pm
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland's Constitutency Office
344 Bloor Street West

Wednesday, October 25 -- 5:00-6:00 pm
University of Toronto
North West Corner of Harbord and St. George St.

Wednesday, November 1 -- 5:00-6:00 pm
Ryerson University
South East Corner of Yonge and Gould St.

Wednesday, November 8 -- 5:00-6:00 pm
George Brown College
200 King Street East

Wednesday, November 15 -- 5:00-6:00 pm
Ontario Superior Court (across from U.S. Consulate)
361 University Ave.

Information Picket Held in Burnaby, BC

On July 29, supporters of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) held an information picket outside Lougheed SkyTrain Station in Burnaby to demand that the United States and its allies, including Canada, keep their hands off the DPRK, and to support the reunification of Korea which is one country. The area around the transit station has a large population of Korean origin as well as numerous shops frequented by the Korean community.

For one-and-a-half hours the picketers distributed the statement of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) and the Korean Federation in Canada of July 5, 2017 entitled "No to Canada's Participation in U.S. War Preparations Against the DPRK! Make Canada a Zone for Peace!" They held discussions with passersby and held aloft placards reading "Hands Off the DPRK," "U.S. Troops Out of Korea," "No to Canada's Participation in U.S. War Preparations Against the DPRK," "Make Canada a Zone for Peace," "Korea Is One" and "Canada Must Sign a peace treaty with the DPRK."

Future pickets will be held in various parts of the Metro Vancouver area with the aim of smashing the silence about the aggressive intentions of the U.S. imperialists and their allies -- including the Canadian government -- towards the Korean people. The pickets will also help lift the pressure off the Korean community which is deeply concerned about the fate of their homeland, and end their feelings of isolation from the rest of the Canadian people.

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War with North Korea Cannot Be Contained
but Must Be Prevented

Demonstration at U.S. Embassy in Seoul, September 8, 2017. Banner reads:  "Remove THAAD! End Hostile Policy Against DPRK! U.S. Troops Out! Sign Peace Treaty Now!"

After Donald Trump threatened the Democratic People's Republic of Korea with "fire and fury like the world has never seen," independent journalist Ann Garrison conducted the following interview with K.J. Noh, a peace activist and scholar on the geopolitics of the Asian continent who writes for Counterpunch and Dissident Voice. This interview was originally published on August 16, 2017 in Black Agenda Report.

Rehearsing Armageddon

Ann Garrison: North Korea is standing up to the U.S.'s 4800 "locked and loaded" nuclear weapons with an estimated 30 to 60 of its own. Do you think it would still be standing without them?

K.J. Noh: It's hard to imagine so. North Korea has been in a defensive crouch since the inception of its state. It has been under risk of nuclear attack almost continuously since 1950. Starting during the Korean War (1950-1953), the use of nuclear bombs against North Korea was considered; after the cessation of hostilities in 1953, the U.S. refused to enter into further negotiations, letting the 90-day requirement to negotiate a peace treaty expire. It subsequently refused to remove troops and weapons, and not introduce new weapons systems into the peninsula, as required by the Armistice Agreement (Paragraph 13d).

Starting in 1958, the U.S. placed "Honest John" surface-to-surface nuclear missiles, 280mm atomic cannons, and nuclear cruise missiles on the peninsula, and kept them there until 1991. Then, after the fall of the Soviet Union, ICBM's pointed at the former Soviet Union were redirected at North Korea.

War Games conducted every year (Key Resolve-Foal Eagle and Ulchi Freedom Guardian) rehearse the attack and occupation of North Korea and decapitation of its leadership. The recent spring war games (Key Resolve-Foal Eagle) have been twice the size of the Normandy Invasion, involving carrier battle group and submarine maneuvers, amphibious landings of mechanized brigades, naval blockade, live fire drills, special forces infiltration, as well as B-1B, B-2 and B-52 nuclear bombing runs. North Korea's leadership is also well aware of the fact that Clinton's 1997 Presidential Decision Directive 60 authorizes pre-emptive nuclear war.

Let's also not forget the fact that North Korea was literally bombed back into the Stone Age during the Korean War, when between 20-30% of its population was exterminated. The country was turned into a moonscape, scorched with napalm, and flooded. Independent reports allege the use of bioweapons. You have to go back to the Punic Wars and the sack of Carthage to imagine destruction of such scale and violence. Even General Douglas MacArthur, no stranger to bloodshed, said in his congressional testimony: "I have never seen such are perpetuating a slaughter such as I have never heard of in the history of mankind."

The current threats by the current president, although a little more off-the-cuff and colorful than usual, are nothing new for the North Koreans. For example, on two occasions, Colin Powell blithely threatened to turn North Korea into charcoal briquette -- a chilling statement to a country that for three years had 50,000 gallons of Napalm dropped on it daily.

The North Koreans, having lived through, not merely the threat of Armageddon, but the experience of it, are highly unlikely to let go of nuclear weapons as a deterrent.

Framework of Distrust

There was once a possibility of denuclearizing North Korea, back in the '90s. The North Koreans had agreed to monitoring and dismantling of their nuclear reactor, in exchange for normalization of diplomatic relations, removal of sanctions, fuel oil, and a light breeder reactor, whose byproducts would be more difficult to build a nuclear weapon with. The North Koreans fulfilled the bargain for four years, but the treaty (the 1994 Agreed Framework) was dead on arrival in Washington two weeks after signing, and none of the conditions were upheld by the U.S. side. After eight years of Waiting for Godot, the North Koreans found themselves branded as part of the "Axis of Evil." The North Koreans read the writing on the wall, withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and restarted their nuclear program in 2003.

In 2005, the Chinese negotiated a deal -- through the six party talks from 2003-2005 -- between the U.S. and North Korea, whereby the North Koreans would again dismantle their program, and the U.S. would normalize relations. The very day after the signing, the U.S. charged North Korea with counterfeiting currency and increased sanctions. North Korea withdrew from the deal, and in 2006, tested a nuclear device.

The pattern of distrust is repetitious, going all the way back to the armistice of 1953, which the U.S. announced its intention to abrogate on the day after signing, as it has to the current moment. The current situation, a nuclear armed North Korea, is the result, and it's unlikely that it can be reversed. Given their own history, not to mention the examples of Libya and Iraq, the North Koreans are unlikely to give up their deterrent, and have said so explicitly. That horse has long left the barn.

The Political Economy of Fear

AG: Does the U.S. have an issue with North Korea aside from the fact that it exists and has a few nuclear weapons?

KJN: The current system is a political economy of fear. From a viewpoint of propaganda, it's the recycling of the Aristotelian devices of Fear and Pity for the political theater of this current historical moment.

But it's also the psychology of the political economy: a culture built on individualism lives always in an existential terror of isolation, and has to dominate its way out of its fear. On a national level, this becomes the bad conscience and projected, karmic terror of a system built on genocide.

In reality, most commentators have assessed North Korea's actual threat as the threat to defend itself in the case of attack by the U.S. If there is no attack on North Korea, there is little chance of an actual threat to the U.S. North Korea's nuclear program is, as Tim Beal put it, a suicidal "Sampson Option," and a deterrent unlikely to be exercised except under the threat -- or perceived threat -- of its own annihilation.

Like revolutionary Cuba, the example of North Korea must be extinguished because it poses the threat of a counterexample of resistance to global geopolitical design.

Imagined Resistance, Lethal Force

By way of analogy, we can think, for example, of the policing of African American communities. The history of slavery renders the policing of African American bodies subject to a threshold of compliance and submission so immediate, so absolute, so total, that lethal force is routinely exercised at the first sign of imagined resistance, threat, or non-compliance.

U.S. engagement in Asia, Africa, and America involve a similar paranoid "threat" inflation and a similar exercise of lethal "compliance." The Korean War itself was referred to as a "police action."

It's useful to re-examine the history in this light.

Plaque in Pyongyang marks the sinking of the USS General Sherman.

U.S.-Korea relations go back to 1866, when the USS General Sherman forced its way up the Taedong River in Korea, attempting to force open the closed, isolationist state through gunboat diplomacy. The last dynasty of Korea, the 500-year-old Chosun dynasty, was steadfastly Confucian and isolationist, and refused to trade and interact with U.S., European, or Japanese colonial powers, believing that these colonial powers were "totally ignorant of any human morality" and utterly alien to them, and "craved only material goods." They sent envoys entreating the Sherman to leave, and to leave Korea alone. The Sherman refused to take "No" for an answer, defied entreaties to leave, took the envoys as hostages, and opened fire. It in turn was attacked and burned to the ground, and its troops killed.

Five years later, the U.S. returned to settle scores in 1871 with a full scale marine invasion -- 5 warships and 24 supporting vessels, and obliterated the Korean defenders. After this, Korea (Chosun) surrendered and opened wide its borders and ports to Western trade, and a "friendship" treaty was eventually signed in 1882. Similar to the treaties that the Native American nations signed with the U.S., the treaty guaranteed "perpetual peace and friendship," "a perfect, permanent and universal peace, and a sincere and cordial amity," and promised to "render assistance and protection" if other powers "deal unjustly or oppressively" with it. Twenty-three years after the signing of this mutual "friendship treaty," the U.S. went into secret talks with a rising, imperialist Japan, and pawned Korea over to Japan -- green lighting the colonial occupation of Japan -- in return for Japan's non-interference in U.S. colonization of the Philippines. This is the infamous "Taft-Katsura memorandum" of 1905, which is widely viewed in South Korea as an abrogation and betrayal of the 1882 treaty.

The Japanese colonial occupation of Korea from 1910-1945 was brutal. Koreans were conscripted by the millions into slave labor, where they died in untold numbers. One out of five people killed in atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were conscripted Korean slave laborers. The Japanese also kidnapped and enslaved hundreds of thousands of Korean women as military sexual slaves, euphemistically called "comfort women," in the world's largest and most violent system of sexual slavery and trafficking. This became the prototype for modern transnational sexual trafficking. Between 75-90% of these women would die during their sexual enslavement.

Manchurian Candidates

To understand this current moment, you have to go to Manchuria of the 1930s. Japanese-colonized Manchuria, the puppet state they called Manchukuo, is where these excesses were the worst. Historian Mark Driscoll compares Manchukuo to the Belgian Congo in terms of its wanton brutality and disregard for human life, and coins the term, "Manchurian Passage," an Asian "Middle Passage," to characterize the mass enslavement of Chinese and Koreans to fuel forced industrialization of Manchuria. This became the industrial engine that powered the Japanese imperial war machine that went on to conquer and colonize all of Asia.

Mass grave of victims of the Japanese Imperial Army in the infamous Rape of Nanking.

Three key figures are associated with Manchuria; all three are key influences on the current situation: Park Chung Hee, a Korean collaborator who served in the Japanese imperial forces smashing anti-Japanese resistance; Kishi Nobusuke, the minister of munitions and development, and Kim Il Sung, a guerrilla leader fighting the Japanese colonization. Kishi, rehabilitated by the U.S., later becomes Prime Minister of Japan. His grandson, the far right militarist, Shinzo Abe, is the current president of Japan. Park Chung Hee later becomes the president/dictator of South Korea. His daughter is the recently impeached quisling president of Korea. Kim Il Sung, the guerrilla leader fighting Japanese colonization, later becomes the Leader of North Korea. His grandson, Kim Jung Un, is the current Leader of North Korea.

Fast forward to 1945, the end of the war. Japan surrenders, Korea is liberated. The liberated Koreans create their own state, the Korean People's Republic, a democratic, populist state comprised of thousands of people's committees who had fought the Japanese colonization. Its political economy is an indigenous socialism consisting of thousands of labor and farming cooperatives.

Kim Il Sung addresses the first session of the DPRK's Supreme People's Assembly, September 10, 1948.

U.S. cold war policy cannot countenance an indigenous, grassroots socialism, especially within the possible orbit of a newly arisen China. It divides Korea in two, much like Vietnam, thwarts national elections, creates a capitalist state in the south by force, and installs an American puppet, Syngman Rhee, as dictator. It also puts Japanese collaborators back into power, and the entire structure of Japanese colonial domination back into place: police, courts, prisons, military, even comfort women. The almost complete reinstallation by the U.S. of this military colonial capitalist system, with the same despotic bloody Japanese collaborators back in power, is the worst nightmare the Koreans can imagine. They fight back, first in mass civil resistance, which is suppressed by mass killings, then guerrilla resistance, which results in scorched earth tactics. The suppression reaches genocidal, atrocity-level proportions in the South: hundreds of thousands are mowed down and murdered by the U.S.-installed Southern dictatorship. Eventually, this crests into a full scale war in 1950.

"Closer than Lips to Teeth"

The Chinese, who fought together with the Koreans against the Japanese in Manchuria, consider the creation of the People's Republic of China indelibly linked to the efforts of Korean fighters, a blood debt. When the U.S. sends troops into the Korean War, the Chinese, despite being impoverished and weary from their own liberation struggles, send over a million volunteer troops to fight with the North Koreans -- just as they had in 1592, when they sent 300,000 troops to repel an earlier Japanese invasion.

"Closer than lips to teeth" is how Chairman Mao characterizes the Korea-China relationship. He sends his own sons to fight in the Korean war; one of them is buried in Korean soil.

The Chinese repel the U.S. and South Korean Army in the early stages of the war. The U.S. reacts with a carpet bombing that takes on the character of a full-blown genocide, a military violence unseen in the annals of warfare. North Korea is razed to the ground, "bombed into the Stone Age" and beyond, napalmed into one long fiery barbecue pit, then flooded as dams are destroyed. Mass slaughter of civilians is routine, and blamed on the North, although later studies indicate that 95% of civilian casualties were caused by the U.S. or the South Korean Army under U.S. control.

In 1953, an armistice is signed, but the key provisions of the armistice are not upheld: to withdraw foreign troops, not to introduce new weapons, and to initiate proceedings to procure a lasting peace within 90 days. No peace treaty is ever signed or pursued; in fact the U.S. announces its intention to let the clock run down on the 90 day provision, covertly introduces new arms the following year, including 166 fighter planes, then dismantles the UN Neutral Nations Inspection Team when they report on these violations. By 1968, there are 950 nuclear weapons on the peninsula threatening North Korea, and the [Demilitarized Zone] is routinely punctuated with sporadic raids, border incidents, and firefights.

U.S. troops still occupy South Korea to this day; all of South Korea's military and facilities still fall under U.S. Operational Control the moment the U.S. president decides -- by declaring Defcon 3. Nuclear weapons have been on the ground or in play since the beginning. Every entreaty on the part of North Korea for negotiations for a peace treaty or a non-aggression pact has been rebuffed or conditioned on non-starter demands such as unilateral disarmament. Instead, the U.S. conducts, twice yearly, the largest military exercises on the planet and recurrently threatens North Korea with annihilation. Donald Trump's "fire and fury like the world has never seen" is just the most recent threat.

A clear-eyed assessment of the history and the situation would conclude that it would be irrational for North Korean survival if it gave up nuclear weapons. They also seem to have been using a calibrated tit-for-tat approach for escalation and de-escalation of threat -- the only strategy to prevent war under a situation of deep distrust. However, this capacity for deterrence itself is seen as a threat from the standpoint of the U.S.

The Chinese Connection

AG: Syria has no nuclear weapons, but they probably wouldn't be standing without Russia, which got some backup from China. China sent its destroyers and aircraft carriers into the Mediterranean, though I didn't hear of them actually engaging. Do you think China and Russia can somehow defuse this?

KJN: China is enmeshed with North Korea through culture, history, geography, proximity, propinquity, and consanguinity. It's also bound to North (and South) Korea through tradition and treaty. There is the 1961 Mutual Defense Treaty between China and North Korea that is still binding, and has never been disavowed: China will come to North Korea's aid if North Korea is attacked. Recent top level statements have reaffirmed and emphasized this; Chinese party officials who have suggested otherwise have been shown the door. In other words, a war with North Korea, will be a war with China.

It's also important to remember that Russia also shares a border with North Korea, and has interests in maintaining the current status quo.

China is currently leveraging all its diplomatic forces to de-escalate the possibility of war. It would rather have a nuclear North Korea than war or chaos on its border, but the U.S. seems to be suggesting that the first will inevitably lead to the others. In 2003, China spearheaded the six-party talks which also attempted to stop a similar escalation. China has also backed the North's "double freeze" -- freeze nuclear programs in exchange for freezing military exercises -- although both the Obama and Trump administrations have ignored these proposals. It has also warned the U.S. that if there is any attempt "to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean peninsula," it will prevent them from doing so. Moreover, it will not do what the U.S. expects it to do: force North Korea to disarm by strong arming it economically or politically. China voted for the recent UN sanctions only in the interest of de-escalation.

China has neither the power nor the inclination to be a subcontractor to U.S. foreign policy; any policy that takes that as a starting point is doomed to fail. However, that may be the point for certain involved parties.

China's goals in the region are significantly, if not diametrically, opposed to those of the U.S. China is acutely aware that the U.S. has been pursuing a policy of military and economic encirclement/containment, from the '90s onward, but most overtly since 2011, when Hillary Clinton announced the "Pivot to Asia." An explicit war doctrine has been mapped out and elements have been progressively implemented vis-a-vis China. Those factions analyzing or proposing war with China have pointed out that it will be less costly to the U.S. if this happens sooner rather than later.

At the Catastrophic Edge of the Eternal Present

AG: Is conventional warfare even imaginable in this situation?

KJN: War is always a failure of the moral imagination. In the case of Korea, it's also a limited situation of imagination itself. It's hard to conceive of a "limited" attack that would not spiral into something much more catastrophic. The cascading contingencies are just too complex and unpredictable; the historical trauma vortex is simply too overdetermined.

French mathematician René Thom developed a model of "catastrophic" change where, for example, the axes of fear and rage, of threat of war and its cost, slide the situation incrementally and discretely into an unstable, unpredictable, catastrophic attack. Threat signaling of the type we have seen is not cost-free. It will not bring about de-escalation through tit-for-tat actions, or submission, or escape, but rather push parties deeper into the cusp of the catastrophe, fixing an enraged "war trance," setting the stage for unpredictable, catastrophic violence.

The last Korean War was beyond imagination, which is why it has been completely forgotten and repressed in the West. For the North Koreans, it is eternally present. They live in the eternal present of that experience, which they cannot, will not, metabolize or release into memory, until a lasting peace and security is created on the peninsula. That's why all concerned parties have to put their shoulders into negotiations for peace. Otherwise the consequences will be unimaginable. Inside this current crisis, there is a seed of opportunity; the current South Korean president, who is in favor of de-escalation with North Korea, has put forth concrete measures to initiate the process.

Peace is possible on the Korean Peninsula. If the planet is to survive, there is no other choice.

Los Angeles, August 14, 2017

K.J. Noh is a peace activist and scholar on the geopolitics of the Asian continent who writes for Counterpunch and Dissident Voice. He is special correspondent for KPFA Flashpoints on the "Pivot to Asia," the Koreas, and the Pacific.

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at

(Photos: Tongil News, TML, Nodutdol, J. Pavelka)

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Aftermath of Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma Relief & Reconstruction
for Cuba Campaign

Massive flooding in Cuba's capital Havana in wake of the powerful Hurricane Irma.
Across Cuba, people are working hard to enact a speedy recovery. 

Hurricane Irma menaced and devastated the eastern and northern Caribbean, striking Cuba from September 8-10, resulting in significant and widespread damage. Accompanied by massive flooding, its sweeping destruction encompassed housing, communications, infrastructure, agricultural equipment, crops, and community buildings.

While we are confident that the Cuban people will overcome any challenges posed by Hurricane Irma, Cuba will nevertheless have to expend considerable resources, both immediate and long term, in order to overcome the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Irma.

To assist Cuba in its immense efforts of recovery and reconstruction, the Canadian Network On Cuba (CNC) is launching the Hurricane Irma Relief & Reconstruction for Cuba Campaign.

In recent years, the CNC has had a series of successful Hurricane Relief Campaigns. The most recent was in 2016 when Hurricane Matthew struck eastern Cuba, devastating Baracoa, Cuba's oldest city. In 2008, the CNC's most extensive campaign was launched when a series of hurricanes caused damage in excess of $10 billion. The CNC not only raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, but also directly participated in the construction of a new social and cultural centre on La Isla de La Juventud (Isle of Youth).

In 2017, as Cuba faces this latest challenge, we are confident that Canadians -- as they have repeatedly done -- will once again demonstrate their friendship and solidarity with Cuba by supporting the island as it recovers from the ravages of Hurricane Irma.

First Vice President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez (centre) inspects recovery operations at the severely damaged Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric plant in Matanzas, September 13, 2017.

Our experience with regard to Cuba's response to natural disasters is that it knows how to multiply the value of any donations it receives. We feel confident, based on the island's unsurpassed humanitarian work -- both within Cuba and in other countries -- that it has the skills, the organization and the ethical and moral values to put whatever assistance it receives to the best possible use.

Even at this difficult time, in the midst of Hurricane Irma's havoc, Cuba's deep internationalist spirit has once again been profoundly demonstrated by the sending of more than 750 Cuban health workers to Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Haiti, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, and the Bahamas.

As in past campaigns, we hope that solidarity organizations and individuals will generously support Cuba in its efforts to rebuild after this devastating hurricane.

Send donations to:

CNC Hurricane Relief
56 Riverwood Terrace
Bolton, ON L7E 1S4

Please make cheques out to the Canadian Network On Cuba and write "CNC Hurricane Irma Relief Fund" on your cheque's memo line.

All donations will be forwarded 100 per cent directly to Cuba.

(September 10, 2017. Photos: Granma)

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Appeal to Our Fighting People

Raúl Castro (right), in his capacity as President of the National Defense Council, leads a meeting with Communist Party of Cuba, state and government leaders on September 13, 2017, to evaluate the damage from Irma and the actions to be undertaken during the recovery phase.

Hurricane Irma, with its destructive force, lashed out at our Island for more than 72 hours, from the morning of Friday, September 8 to Sunday, September 10. With winds that at times surpassed 250 kilometres per hour, it crossed the north of the country from Baracoa -- also punished by another phenomenon of this type almost a year ago -- to the vicinity of Cardenas. However, by the immensity of its size practically no territory was freed of its effects.

Called by experts the largest hurricane formed in the Atlantic, this meteorological phenomenon caused severe damage to the country, which, precisely because of its size, has not yet been quantified. A preliminary look evidences damage to housing, the national power grid and agriculture.

In addition, it hit some of our main tourist destinations, however, we will restore the damages before the start of the peak season. We have the necessary human and material resources, as this is one of the main sources of income for the national economy.

These have been hard days for our people, who in only a few hours have seen how everything we have built with great effort has been struck down by a devastating hurricane. The pictures of the last hours are eloquent, as is the spirit of resistance and victory of our people who are reborn with every adversity.

In these difficult circumstances, paramount have been the unity of the Cubans, the solidarity among the neighbours, the discipline to follow the instructions issued by the National Civil Defense General Staff and the Defense Councils at all levels, the professionalism of the specialists at the Institute of Meteorology, the immediacy of our media and journalists, the support of mass organizations, as well as the cohesion of the governing bodies of the National Defense Council. Special mention to all our women, including the leaders of the Party and the Government, who with steadiness and maturity directed and faced the difficult situation.

In the days to come, there will be a lot of work, where the strength of the Cubans and the indestructible confidence in their Revolution will once again be demonstrated. It is not time to mourn, but to rebuild what the winds of Hurricane Irma tried to disappear.

With organization, discipline and the integration of all our structures, we will go ahead as we have done on previous occasions. Let us not fool ourselves, the task before us is immense. But with a people like ours we will win the most important battle: recovery.

At this crucial moment, the Central Trade Union Organization of Cuba (CTC) and the National Association of Small Farmers, together with other mass organizations, will have to redouble their efforts to erase as soon as possible the aftermath of this destructive event.

A principle remains unchanged: the Revolution will not leave anyone homeless and measures are already taken so that no Cuban family is left to their fate.

As has been customary every time a weather phenomenon hits us, there are many signs of solidarity received from all over the world. Heads of State and Government, political organizations and friends of solidarity movements have expressed their willingness to help us, which we thank on behalf of the more than eleven million Cubans.

Let us face the recovery with the example of Commander-in-Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, who with his permanent faith in victory and strong will has taught us that there are no impossible tasks. In these difficult hours, his legacy makes us strong and unites us.

Raul Castro Ruz

(Havana, 10 September 2017. Granma English translation edited slightly for grammar.)

Spontaneous display of unity and support for the recovery efforts in Havana.

Downed trees are cleared in Mayabeque province. Plans are underway to see that all suitable organic debris is composted for use in the agricultural sector.

Repair of power lines in Camagüey province. Getting the electrical
system up and running is a high priority. Despite the severe damage, 87 per cent of Cubans
have had their electricity restored as of September 15, 2017.

Classes resume in Granma province, September 12, 2017.

(Photos: Granma, R. Almirante, Adelante, ANC.)

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Irma, a Hurricane to Remember

After wreaking havoc along almost the entire northern coastline of the island as it traveled from east to west, Hurricane Irma began to move away from Cuba leaving a trail of material damage, the full extent of which is still unknown.

According to preliminary reports, flooding caused by Hurricane Irma is perhaps the most severe to have affected Havana's coastline to date, with over 1.5 meters of water in some areas, in particular low-lying zones closest to the Malecon.

Irma, which started off as a tropical storm on August 30 west of the Cape Verde islands, began to intensify at an unusually rapid pace for the region, and by the following day had become a hurricane.

Irma reached a Category 5 rating on the Saffir-Simpson Scale on September 5, as it moved west-northwestward toward the group of islands which make up the Lesser Antilles, leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake.

Meanwhile, meteorologist Dr. José Rubiera, highlighted that Irma set a new record; remaining a Category 5 hurricane for almost 72 straight hours.

After making landfall on the evening of September 8 to the east of Cayo Romano, north of Camagüey, Irma became one of the few Category 5 hurricanes to directly affect the island, after those of October 1846, October 1924, November 1932, and Hurricane Fox in October 1952.

Although the timing, region and trajectory of Hurricane Irma were typical, the hurricane's rains, winds and cloud extended across an unusually large area, something that hasn't been seen in Cuba for a very long time.

For example, in the early hours of September 10, Irma's winds extended from Artemisa to Sancti Spíritus, affecting Havana for over 16 hours, something which hasn't been seen since the Hurricane of October 18, 1944.

Chronological list of the most severe coastal flooding in Havana over the last 50 years:

- October 1985: Hurricane Juan
- February 6, 1992: Extra-tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico
- March 13, 1993: Storm of the Century
- October 2005: Hurricane Wilma
- September 2017: Hurricane Irma

Photos of Damage from Hurricane Irma Across Cuba

Baracoa, Guantánamo

Flooding in Vado del Yeso, Granma.

Playa Jigüey, Camagüey

The Jardines del Rey International Airport on Cayo Coco in Ciego de Ávila province has been completely destroyed.

Yaguajay, Sancti Spíritus

Severe damage at a warehouse housing goods for the tourism industry in Villa Clara province.

Province of Matanzas

Damaged power lines and trees, and a flooded tunnel in the capital Havana.

(September 11, 2017. Photos: Granma, CubaDebate)

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Six Questions About Hurricane Irma,
Climate Change and Harvey

As global temperatures rise, warmer oceans are expected to fuel stronger hurricanes, with disastrous consequences.

For the first time since 2010 three hurricanes were active in the Atlantic at the same time,
and a rare case of multiple Atlantic hurricanes threatening land at the same time.
(Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project)

A third of the way into the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA [the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Commerce Department] looked at the ocean and air temperatures and issued an ominous new forecast: the region would likely experience "an above normal hurricane season" that "could be extremely active," with more named storms than previously expected -- 14 to 19 this season -- and two to five major hurricanes.

Now, halfway through the season, Hurricane Harvey's destruction stretches along the Texas coast, and Hurricane Irma's storm surge has turned Florida's streets into rivers after causing massive destruction in the Caribbean. On Irma's heels, Hurricane Jose is swirling in the Atlantic, while a third Atlantic hurricane, Katia, struck Mexico's eastern coast late Friday [September 10] night.

As global temperatures continue to rise, climate scientists have said this is what we should expect -- more huge storms, with drastic impacts.

Though scientists are still wrestling with some of the specifics of how climate change is impacting hurricanes, a lot is known, including the fact that hurricane seasons like this one could be the new norm.

What's So Extraordinary about These Storms?

Records are tumbling in quick succession this year. Irma, among the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, barreled over the islands of the Caribbean as a Category 5 storm this week en route to Florida, while Houston, Texas, was still draining from Harvey's five-day deluge that broke the continental U.S. rainfall total for a single event.

Major storms are falling outside their normal range (Irma is the easternmost on record), and at strange times of the year (Tropical Storm Arlene hit in April of this year -- one of only two named tropical storms in April, and the northernmost on record for that time of year).

As climate change progresses, scientists aren't projecting an increase in total storms, but they are expecting a jump in the number of major storms -- just like we're seeing now.

What Does Climate Change Have to Do with It?

If Hurricane Harvey had happened at the end of the 20th century, that amount of rain falling in Houston in a single storm would have been rare -- a 1-in-2,000-year event, said Kerry Emanuel, an MIT professor of atmospheric sciences. But as temperatures continue to rise, those rare events are becoming increasingly less rare, he said.

There are myriad reasons why individual storms develop as they do, including a combination of natural and manmade causes. That can make it hard to assess what role climate may have played in an individual storm (though the science behind attribution studies is getting better all the time). What scientists who study hurricanes are confident in, though, is the underlying physics that show that warmer temperatures are among the factors changing the way that storms form.

According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, the intensity, frequency and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes have increased since the early 1980s. The frequency of the strongest storms -- category 4 and 5 hurricanes -- has increased too.

How Do Warmer Oceans Feed Hurricanes?

NOAA releases its annual Atlantic hurricane outlook each spring, in advance of the hurricane season that starts on June 1. This year, the agency had to update that outlook in August with an expectation of even more storms, due in part to warmer surface water temperatures.

Surface temperatures in the eastern half of the tropical Atlantic Ocean were between 0.5°C and 1°C above average this summer, as the NOAA maps below of the sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies from mid-July to early September show.

Those higher temperatures (as well as higher temperatures in the atmosphere) feed the storms, helping them strengthen. One study based on two decades of data found that hurricanes intensify significantly faster now than they used to. The researchers found that storms reach Category 3 wind speeds nine hours faster than they did in the 1980s.

Why So Much Rainfall in Houston?

Those higher temperatures don't just result in more intense wind speeds. Warmer air also retains more water vapor, which can result in dramatic rainfall like what happened during Hurricane Harvey.

In the case of Harvey, the rain volume was exacerbated by the fact that the storm stalled over the Houston area, bringing days of relentless downpours. The storm was surrounded by two high pressure systems, which essentially locked the storm in place. "Meteorologically, Southeast Texas, at the time, was pretty much a giant stop sign," meteorologist Jonathan Belles told the Houston Chronicle. By the time the storm moved out, the National Weather Service had recorded 51.88 inches of rain near Mont Belvieu, Texas -- a record for rainfall from a single storm in the continental U.S.

This stalling is a frequent feature of extreme events, but at this point, scientists have not found a conclusive link to climate change. There may be a connection, though, according to climate scientist Michael Mann. "More tenuous, but possibly relevant still, is the fact that very persistent, nearly 'stationary' summer weather patterns of this sort, where weather anomalies (both high pressure dry hot regions and low-pressure stormy/rainy regions) stay locked in place for many days at a time, appears to be favored by human-caused climate change," he wrote in a Facebook post late last month.

In a study published online in the journal Nature in March, Mann and coauthors wrote that amplified warming in the Arctic driven by anthropogenic climate change may be leading to an increase in extreme weather events that linger in one place for extended periods of time.

What Are the Biggest Threats from Irma?

The big fear with Irma is the wind. The National Hurricane Center was reporting sustained winds of 185 mph on Wednesday [September 6] and gusts even higher. Those wind speeds are similar to Hurricane Wilma, the 2005 storm that resulted in at least 62 deaths and an estimated $29.4 billion in damage, of which $21 billion occurred in the United States.

Another concern is the storm surge that can accompany hurricanes. Riding on top of sea levels that have risen due to climate change, Irma's surge could be particularly dangerous. The National Hurricane Center warned Wednesday of storm surges as high as 20 feet above normal tide levels in the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Southeastern Bahamas.

What About that 'Hurricane Drought' Claim?

On Aug. 25, as Hurricane Harvey gained strength and headed for the Texas coast, the conservative Heartland Institute put out a press release decrying any efforts that scientists and the media might make to explain the climate influences on the storm. Bette Grande, a research fellow with Heartland, said: "Though it has been nearly 12 years since a major hurricane has hit the United States -- Harvey will be creatively spun to 'prove' there are dire effects linked to man-created climate change."

She was referring to the concept of a so-called "hurricane drought" that climate deniers have been circulating -- which they say debunks the work of climate scientists.

While no "major hurricanes" made landfall in the United States between 2005 and this year, those weren't weak tropical storm years -- the biggest storms just didn't hit the U.S. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines with the highest wind speeds ever seen -- until Hurricane Patricia broke that record two years later off Mexico's Pacific Coast, and several other cyclones wreaked havoc elsewhere around the world in the intervening years.

In a 2015 study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, two NASA scientists concluded that the lack of major storms in the United States during that period was merely "a matter of luck."

People in some parts of the United States might also disagree with the concept of a "hurricane drought" during that period.

"Tell the people of coastal Texas that Ike was not a major hurricane," said Emanuel, the MIT scientist. "Well, Ike was technically just under the ranking of major hurricane, and it completely destroyed a huge part of coastal Texas. Now, tell the people of New York that Sandy wasn't a major hurricane."

"There were plenty of hurricanes in that stretch of 12 years," he said. "They just didn't happen to make landfall as strong storms in the United States."

Sabrina Shankman is a producer and reporter for InsideClimate News. She joined ICN in the fall of 2013, after helping produce documentaries and interactives for the PBS show "Frontline" since 2010 with 2over10 Media. She is the author of the ICN book "Meltdown: Terror at the Top of the World," and was named a finalist for the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists for that work. Shankman has a Masters in Journalism from UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism.

(Inside Climate News, September 10, 2017)

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