American Diplomacy with North Korea and Vietnam

EDITORIAL, 8 Jan 2018

#516 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

Foreword to Michael Haas’ Book

What is that American Diplomacy, after US bombing killed 3,5 million in Pyongyang in 1952 and the US Army killed 3 million in Vietnam from 1961 (Kennedy) to 30 Apr 1975 (Ford)?  Softer?

This very rich, well researched book by Michael Haas–a senior, major US political scientist–gives detailed “softer” empirical, factual answers in Part II.  Indeed, highly recommended.

In this foreword, however, I will explore US deep culture implications for US foreign policy, close to “American Diplomacy”.

The US self-image as successor to Israel as MFN–most favored nation–by God, with Chosen People-Promised Land, CPPL, status, is from 1620, on Mayflower. Since about Year 70 Israel clearly no longer enjoyed CPPL status; that was under King David and under King Solomon.

The position as CPPL was empty, may those with credentials apply. Puritan Pilgrims from East Anglia via Leiden in Holland, did, and according to themselves successfully so. London, with no chosen people but command of the Promised Land was beaten in a War of Independence 1775-1812 for Promised Land for Chosen People, ushering in 141 years of wars for “unconditional surrender”. The USA looks invincible.

Till 1953. The Korea war 1950-53 with a Uniting for Peace UN mandate ended not with victory but cease-fire, armistice, DMZ; strongly resisted by Northern Korea and China. The war in Vietnam 1961 till 30 April 1975 ended with the US Army withdrawing unconditionally.

Four stages can be recognized in this very recent history:

  1. French then Japanese colonization of Vietnam, Japanization of Korea;
  2. Defeat of Japan, Vietnam back to France, Korea divided USSR-USA;
  3. Nationalisms in both against France and USSR-USA, for independence;
  4. USA belligerence against that; keeping South Korea, losing Vietnam.

The role of “American Diplomacy”?  To justify US warfare, and, if it does not work, to justify “softer approaches”, like negotiation.

The role of “American Democracy”?  A real life story about that.

Dennis Kucinich, House Representative (D) from Ohio before he was gerrymandered away–another aspect of US democracy, FAFE [Free And Fair Elections] in practice–called a meeting in his office suite in the building across the street from the US Congress. I was asked to tell some representatives about a meeting with leading Taliban in Afghanistan.  To them, the problem was the 1893 Durand Line between the British empire–now Pakistan–and Afghanistan, cutting in two the lands of the biggest nation without a state, the Pashtuns.  Making Pashtuns and Taliban almost synonymous.

Solution: eliminate that line; create a Central Asian Community, border-free, with Afghanistan-Pakistan inviting the other “stans”, Iran, Assad-Kashmir; all in Afghanistan and Afghanistan in them.

A Representative said: “Taliban may think like that. But I am an elected representative in US democracy. The people elected me for this–he made the V sign–then we will tell them what the solution is.

A decade later the USA is still fighting, with NATO allies, for a victory and solution in Afghanistan they will never obtain, because:

  • Afghanistan is 98% Muslim, USA is national evangelist.
  • Afghans can draw upon the solidarity of 1650 million Muslims; the USA has deep problems even with its NATO allies.
  • Their time horizon is unlimited, the US an administration or two.
  • There are strong Muslim groups in USA and allies, not vice versa.
  • Muslims know the West, the languages, cultures, not vice versa.
  • They are up against an “unleveled” US president.

This unequal fight may tempt some in USA to use nukes against a very invulnerable country, leading to revenge in vulnerable USA.  The outcome will be more isolation, decline and fall of the US Republic.

That process has already started, as witnessed by the many major conferences to which the USA is no longer invited. The ball is in other courts: in Russia, India, China–in BRICS in general.

“American Diplomacy” seams to go through four stages:

  1. Telling other states what to do; if they comply, that is.
  2. If they do not comply, attack them as anti-American enemies.
  3. If winning, see to it that they comply and reward the compliers.
  4. If not winning, try “softer approaches”, negotiation, diplomacy.

What will happen if US thinking about North Korea and Vietnam is at the same level as for Afghanistan?  CIA?  “Central” no doubt, and “Agency”, but how about the “Intelligence”?  USA withdrew badly wounded from Vietnam and is now heading for the same in Afghanistan.

North Korea: there seems to be a stalemate, with 8 million or so in and around Seoul being as hostages to North Korean artillery should there be a US attack.  North Korea will not launch a first strike, but they want to show USA-Japan-the World that they are equal to USA in offensive capability with an invulnerability of force and value–people–unmatched in human history. Mantra:  “1952” NEVER AGAIN!

Peace is around the corner if American Diplomacy were able to think-speak-act peace. Take North Korea on their word. Ask them for the details of converting an armistice to a peace treaty; of normalizing diplomatic relations with Seoul-Tokyo-Washington; of an UN-inspected nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.  And then: Negotiate.  Much “American Diplomacy” is used to fight this; USA wants to control South Korea.

Vietnam: the US defeat was total as opposed to in Korea; there will be no war in the foreseeable future in spite of theories about how that unwinnable war could have been won.  But there was some basis for the imposed division between North and South Vietnam; how Vietnam overcame it may teach a USA divided North-South some lessons.  Vietnam improved its karma with USA; USA may learn to improve its karma with the world.  Peace is around the corner.

Conclusion: the general problem is a US deep culture as Chosen People with a Promised World.  Time has come, USA, to become normal.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. Prof. Galtung has published more than 1500 articles and book chapters, 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and more than 170 books on peace and related issues, of which more than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 8 Jan 2018.

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24 Responses to “American Diplomacy with North Korea and Vietnam”

  1. Lester Kurtz says:

    I hesitate to disagree with Johan Galtung, who is far wiser and more informed than I am, but I think he listens more to non-US than to ordinary US citizens. I imagine his analysis of the American deep culture as Chosen People may be true of elite policymakers, which is valid and significant, but I think the deep culture is more complex than that because of 1) more than a generation of anti-war, pro-civil rights activists who are quite aware of America’s flaws (spend more time talking with my teenagers, even our 10-year-old, or my college students) and 2) the demographic changes in the USA with increased numbers of significant people and cultural flows from Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The Empire is over, but the current administration is the last gasp of white male supremacy.

    • Louise Mangan says:

      I share your hope in younger generations, Lester Kurtz. In this dangerous present reality, however, US voters have elected leaders who personify the delusions of exceptionalism. As I see it, the empire is still failing. It’s not over until it is collectively surrendered and healthier energies are embraced.

    • From Johan Galtung:

      @ Lester Kurtz: Excellent, I agree with that too; only hope the non-elite non-Washington will get its act together!


  2. Molroch says:

    I have a suggestion. What about posting a couple dozen papers that blame every ill in the world on the US and Israel and leave out all other factors, and repeat that week by week?

    Oh wait – that *is* what Transcend is all about? Sorry….

    • Pollyanna says:

      What’s your problem with Galtung pointing out the obvious? Lester, also a Transcend member brought in even further nuance than Galtung. Weird people in this comment section sometimes.
      Whatever the issue may be, when the US president suggests wiping out North Korea, as if it were an uninhabited place infront of the UNGA, then this article reads to me like a soft take on how problematic that country is. Bolton, Haley etc… terrible people with profound disregard for the lives of Iranians and other muslims… tired of even trying to point out how problematic US policies have been to those it did not save from Nazism. Western Europe and Norway in particular have something akin to a Stockholm Syndrome… Dear Lester… what would one call it?
      You saved me from Hitler, so what ever you do wrong, it will never be counted as wrong. Chronic blindness? Selective Memory? Acute Bandwaggoning?

      • Molroch says:

        I don’t a problem with discussing important issues, but when a discussion becomes one-sided it is no longer relevant.

        If TMS dedicates itself to run a couple dozen anti-US/anti-Israel memes every week and not much else, it ends up addressing the anti-US/anti-Israel crew alone.

        So nothing lost, nothing gained.

      • Pollyanna says:

        Very uninformed your use of the word anti-US or anti-Israel. You’re one of those people who don’t even know what Galtung as an output machine stands for. Anti-violence. Now that being the case, what do you want him to do when the violence-pornography of the world is primarily supplied by the open air slaughter that is Gaza and oh, let them tell it themselves: Quote: “One knowledgeable official estimates that the CIA-backed fighters may have killed or wounded 100,000 Syrian soldiers and their allies over the past four years.” Source:

        OK? Molroch? Do you understand that, to quote MLK: “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world : My own Government, I can not be Silent.”

        Do you even understand TMS is MLK continued?

  3. The struggle continues! Keep kicking imperialist ass Antonio. Nonviolently of course.

  4. Gary Corseri. says:

    It’s certainly worth reading the comments here–nicely edited by Antonio to curtail and omit some of the more scurrilous ad-hominem sort that used to infect the noble TMS site. Personally, I agree with “Pollyanna” (whom, I think, is not so much “pollyannish” as realistic). But, “the play’s the thing,” as Hamlet had it, and the “play” here is Johan Galtung’s thoughtful (as always) article. So:

    Johan begins with that “chosen people” meme and trope (here given the acronyms CPPL and MFN) and urges the U.S. to “take stock” in 2018 of a very dangerous, perhaps world-shattering, situation on the Korean peninsula.

    Can we get beyond our ancient memes and tropes? Can we address the world as it now is–with a very precarious “balance of powers” as the American Empire (not “Republic” that has been long-gone) loses its authority to run the world–an authority bequeathed to America by the old, devastated empires of Europe and Japan? (As usual, contemporary politicians embrace the old paradigms and fantasies, and neglect the overriding recent realities of US defeat and surrender-withdrawal in Vietnam and the more recent, and continuing, collapse of US alliances.)

    A little “Zen-slapping” might be useful! No people are “chosen” by “God.” (Whose God? Which God among the thousands of iterations? The Abrahamic “One-God” of the Semitic Jews and Semitic Arabs? Yeah…, and when people–self-chosen, God-chosen, Hollywood-chosen, etc.–make the charge of prejudicial “anti-Semitism,” does that apply to the Semitic Arabs, too?)

    To a great extent, as he so often does, Johan is arguing in favor of reality over fantasy and myth. In a world as myth-laden as ours–even in this 21st century–that’s always a difficult argument. But, it is an essential argument–and a very pragmatic one. How can we avert the global catastrophe that looms over us all without heeding the lessons of the past and without clearly and bravely confronting the dragons of memes and tropes that always lurk within the subconscious and have too often emerged to ravage the world?

  5. Molroch says:

    Dear Pollyanna

    IS Galtung about anti-violence only? Without any bias? OK, then show me the papers and articles he has submitted where he is just as critical towards Russia, China, Syria and Iran, as he (and TMS) is week after week after week after week after week after week… towards US and Israel. The subject being anti-violence or not.

    You can’t. And you know you can’t.

    Look at the comments. How many commenters here are not part of the already existing anti-US/anti-Israel lobby?

    Virtually none. You want to preach to the choir only? Carry on what you have done the last years.

    • Molroch says:

      Dear Pollyanna (and others).

      As an example., This week the memes include a propaganda piece from Eva Bartlett. A “journalist” that has – openly – declared her uncritical support for the Nazi regime in Damascus, and has been proven over and over again to manipulate and lie on behalf of the criminal one-party dictatorship in Syria, and to support every act of war and terror perpetrated by the regime and its stooges in Moscow and Teheran.

      Is this “anti-violence”? Is this what TMS is all about?

      Will TMS willingly lend a similar microphone to – say -Mossad?

      • Pollyanna says:

        You my friend are gleefully obtuse.

        Why don’t you do what we are all entitled to do on this website?

        Simply send articles which you consider constructive and think ought to be published on TMS to the editor in chief, and let him call the shots of what gets or does not get published?

        That is the normal thing to do… I am afraid.

        So long.

  6. Molroch says:

    Dear Pollyanna

    OK, you didn’t even bother _try_ finding papers to refute my points. You know they are not there.

    An given that the non-anti-US/anti-Israel stuff doesn’t exist here, why should I bother writing anything that will not pass the editorial filters?

    Fact is that if you want to have something published here, it has to be anti-US/anti-Israel, brownosing Assad, Moscow or Beijing (witness Galtungs coarse “silk road!” cries). Or – even better – some of the genocidal anti-vax stuff from the conspiracy fringe.

    Shall we analyse the last 6 months sum of papers?

    • Joma says:

      Missing the point molroch. TMS purpose is to defeat US hegemony. Not to provide ammo to pro-US forces. If supportng Beijing is the Price to pay so be it…

  7. Mohamed from s***le coutry says:

    the united of criminal states (and russia also) has changed it’s militar doctrine to use nuclear devices in conventional war, and lately they shifted their focus to develope more low yield nuclear devices.

    expect Heroshima 2.0 in north korea, but wait north korea also has nuclear toys and two powerful alies (inbetter shape than vietnam at that time).

    World coutries must stop this rogue nations (mean the united of criminal states) and it’s provocations

  8. David says:

    The first cities on the planet were constructed in southern Irsq by the Sumerians. When the name of the people was spoken, the final “r” was left off. This, these people were the “Shum”. Dr. Samuel Noah Kramer noted that the name equates — through regular vowel shifts — with the Hebrew name “Shem”. Shem, in Biblical Hebrew means “name”. That latter word in the ancient Semitic languages, Akkadian, Eblaite and Aramaic, is rendered “Shum”, or a form very similar. This, the Shum of ancient Iraq appear to have been named after an eponymous father named Shum, who appears to have been one of the biblical Noah’s sons. These S(h)umerians spoke the oldest Indo-European language on the planet, and their art depicts a blue-eyed people. One must wonder why no one seems to have knowledge of this rather important chunk of history!

    • Mohamed from s***le coutry says:

      as far as I know and from ancient times (at least from 1400 years) the place called sham is syria, palestine lebanon and parts of jordan. Iraq has nothing to do with al sham. and by the way how could hebrew prisonners name the cities of their captors (sumarians). the name of NOAH’s (Peace be upon him)was SAM, and all the peoples region (arabs, hebrews) are his descendents.

      • David says:

        In antiquity, and from the earliest times, ancient Syria was known as Aram. This was the name of Shum’s youngest son. The neighbors of the S(h)umerians, in what is now southern Iran, were the Elamites. Their eponymous father was Elam — the eldest son of Shum.

        Hebrews were descended from (H)eber, a great grandson of Noah — and a descendant of the line of Shum through his third son, Arphaxad. The Biblical story of the Flood account is based on extremely ancient records, and oral traditions, and unfortunately distortions have entered into the redactions. The ship, as Dr. Thor Heyerdahl made evident, would have been based on a compact reed hull. However,attempts to make sense of the Hebrew text have yielded some translations that the ship was a reed coracle.

        There was a mixed population on board — not just eight people handling a ship with the displacement of the Titanic, and caring for an incredible zoo — that included aardvarks?!

  9. Mohamed from s***le coutry says:

    To David

    Please stop posting distorted judicial scripts as the Zionists did use to invade the Palestinian’s land, there is no evident archeological findings to proof the existence of Israelites solely in the region, In fact, archeological finds confirm a coexistence of multiple ethnicities in the region and for the name SYRIA i quote “it is most likely that the modern name `Syria’ derives from `Assyria’ (which comes from the Akkadian `Ashur’ and designated the Assyrian’s chief deity) and not from the Hebrew, Siddonian, or Sumerian words” from (

    The most ancient confirmed name of old SYRIA is eber nari (it includes Palestine, Syria and Lebanon, and there is no H to be added to eber nari to distort it.

    For your earlier comment on people with blue eyes, please feel free to see old statutes from different places of the world without any connection between them depicting blue eyed gods (

    the most known story of the origins of Hebrews is that they are descendants of JUDA son of prophet JACOB (Peace be upon him), and the brother of other 11 boys including prophet JOSEPH (Peace be upon him).

    • David says:

      UNGER’S BIBLE DICTIONARY EXPLAINS THIS REGARDING THE NAME ASSHUR: “the second son of Shem (Gen 10:11, I Chron. 1:17). His descendants peopled the land of Assyria . . . “. The name Eber is a dialectal variant. Arabs spell “river” as “nahr”, while in Hebrew the spelling is rendered “nahar”. English Bibles usually refer to one of Noah’s three sons as Ham, while in Greek texts, (following the Hebrew), the spelling is “Cham”. His tribe settled Egypt, where in antiquity the people there referred to themselves as the people of Kam. The God of the Assyrians was their deified ancestor — their eponymous father.

      Ancient Syria was known as Aram, as I have already explained. Abraham originally came from the region of Paddan Aram, in the vicinity of Aram Naharaim. (“Aram of the Rivers”)

      The nineteenth century Franco-Tuscan Expedition to Egypt yielded reproductions in art that Rosellini published, of ancient Egyptian artwork. There are Syrians with reddish-blond beards, (that we find among Lebanese men today?) — blue-eyed Syrians, Libyans and Anatolian Hiittites. Has all of this become lost on the Arab world? How is that?!

      • Mohamed from s***le coutry says:

        I agree with you that descendants of SAM witch you call SHEM have lived in ancient ASSYRIA, but they were not alone in the region and other people also lived in the area in the same time (archeological proofs in my old post) , also descendants of SAM (SHEM) are both Hebrews and Arabs so technically both have lived together for millennials before each moved to other places (Hebrews went to Egypt and some Arabs went to Arabian peninsula), the place of birth of prophet IBRAHIM (peace be upon him) is not confirmed, but we believe he lived in HEBRON city of Palestine.

        I didn’t understand the last paragraph and your questions. My idea is that other cultures around the world have also depicted some of their Gods as figures with blue eyes.

  10. David says:

    My point is that after the Great Deluge, people of every culture dispersed from one central area of the planet, in far eastern Turkiye. The Caucasian race (the white race) is associated with the Caucasus Mountains. A branch of these runs south into Lebanon (which means “white” — Hebrew, “laban”). There was, in antiquity, a fairly large population of Caucasians in various parts of the Near and Middle East, that no longer exists there. This is a demographic reality that involves the pressures exerted by a larger cultural population. Today, the West depends on its technologically advanced weaponry for security, while less industrialized nations count on their numbers of people for security. Both strategies exist more at a biological level, than at a spiritual level. This is the invisible evil that is at the root of the world’s conflicts. It was the evil of the European Age of the Enlightenment, which, as the late Pope John Paul II noted, had centered on the philosophy of thought, rather than the philosophy of being. The Enlightenment, he stated, had turned its back on metaphysics.

    There exists an invisible reality that is of a spiritual nature – involving metaphysics, that manifests as signs to those who seek knowledge of this “kingdom of heaven”. Because modern religions tend to ignore this spiritual reality, they tend to only project the appearance of religion, while denying its power, as the New Testament evangelist Paul explained. Thus, the priests do not inquire where God is, as Isaiah the prophet claimed. Moslems are no different in this regard, in relation to “al Ilah”.

    Thus, the road to peace is not through finger pointing, so much as it is through the seeking of knowledge of the God who dwells among us. The evil is the fallen nature of the cultures that inhabit this planet, that have turned their back on metaphysics, and on God.

    • Mohamed says:

      As a muslim i do believe in The great flood, but other details about races of people who lived in the area i do not agree with it , and franckly i don’t care about it a lot.

      Peace is a big word and Islam is all about to serrender to the creator, and in arabic it literally means peace and the muslims greeting is salam alikom -wich means peace be upon you-.

      The arab world have been torn apart by coloniale forces for centeries and before that you can read about the coexistance between jews and muslims in arab world. The defieted europeans invaders and the currents american ones all tried to CIVILIZE the muslim world as like islam is something bad witch is not. How would you react if the most holly mosque after macca is declared a capital of a zionist terroriste regime. How could the fool presisdent of the americans demande such thing.

      The muslim world have been pocked a lot and big wars are on our door steps, no one is safe, if the super powers don’t stop their terrorisme there will an anhilition of human race.

      Jews have never been an enemy to the muslims in old times. The current zionist state is a cancer in the heart of the arab world.

      May peace be upon you all