Issue XCVI

21 OCT 2016

Today in History


Washington was on brink of war with North Korea 5 years ago (1994)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States was on the brink of war with North Korea during a crisis five years ago, former Defense Secretary William Perry revealed.

Perry's remarks came during a Clinton administration announcement last month that it was easing long-standing economic sanctions against the communist country because another crisis over North Korea's planned missile tests had been averted by diplomacy.

The earlier crisis developed during the summer of 1994. Then, according to former Pentagon officials, the U.S. military drew up plans to send cruise missiles and F-117 stealth fighters to strike a small nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, in order to prevent North Korea from recovering the raw material to make nuclear bombs.

"I believe it would have resulted almost certainly in war," said Robert Gallucci who was the State Department's point man on Korea in 1994. He was sure an attack on Yongbyon would spark another war on the Korean peninsula, a war -- sources say -- in which the Pentagon had forecast up to one-million deaths.

"We demonstrated we were prepared to go down the military route if we needed to, but that was clearly not something that was a preferred course," said Gallucci, now dean of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

Sanctions also high risk

Perry, who had ordered the planning for the preemptive strike, ultimately rejected it. While he was convinced the U.S. military could take out the Yongbyon plant with little risk of spreading radiation, Perry also believed the attack would result in all-out war.

Instead, Perry recommended President Clinton seek tougher United Nation's sanctions -- which, while less provocative, also carried a high risk.

"We had been told -- I had been personally been told by the North Korean head of the delegation -- that a sanctions resolution and actions to implement (the sanctions) could well be taken as an act of war, given that the UN was a belligerent in the Korean War and there was an armistice in place," Gallucci recounted.

It was a tense scene in the White House on June 15, 1994. Perry and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. John Shalikashvili were briefing President Clinton and other top officials on three options to substantially reinforce the 37,000 U.S. troops stationed on the Korean peninsula since the end of the Korean War.

The Pentagon was advocating a "middle option" -- moving 10,000 more troops, along with F-117s,...

What can the U.S. Learn from the Agreed Framework?


This past October marked the 20th anniversary of the Agreed Framework. A landmark agreement between the US and North Korea. Its aim was to “achieve peace and security on a nuclear-free Korean peninsula” and normalize North Korean-American relations. The agreement’s implementation replaced North Korea’s existing nuclear power program with light water reactors, as well as provided “formal assurances” to North Korea “against the threat or use of nuclear weapons.”

Cracks started to appear in 2002 when the US accused North Korea of breaking the terms of the agreement by restarting its uranium enrichment program. The agreement eventually collapsed in 2003 as North Korea announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). So, 20 years down the road, what lessons can the US take away from the Agreed Framework?

There are typically two common, polarized schools of thought on what we can learn from the agreement. The first is that the interpretation of the Agreed Framework as a success, despite its eventual collapse, stems from the fact that it slowed North Korea’s nuclear program, provided a near decade long period of relative stability on the Korean peninsula, and improved US-North Korea relations. The second is that the agreement was a total failure, as North Korea had no intention of giving up its nuclear weapons and was able to use nuclear brinkmanship to blackmail the US for economic assistance and security promises. Both schools of thought have merit.

It is clear that the Agreed Framework was not a flawless agreement, but it is equally clear that there is no perfect solution when it comes to tackling North Korea’s nuclear program. So, if there is no ideal solution, what are the available options?

First, however unappealing it is to Washington, accept that North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons and that it will be a nuclear armed state. Second, do nothing. This is the Obama administration’s current strategy; they seem to have grown exhausted by failed attempts to engage Pyongyang. The administration’s ‘strategic patience’ tactic – remaining open to talks with Pyongyang but only if certain preconditions are met – has reached a stalemate and has only given North Korea more time to develop its nuclear arsenal. Finally, squeeze North Korea with sanctions in the hope that the financial losses from sanctions...


1979: Sandinista rebels take Nicaraguan capital


Fighters of the left-wing Sandinista National Liberation Front have overthrown the regime in the central American republic of Nicaragua and taken the capital, Managua.

The notorious US-trained National Guard has crumbled and its surviving commanders are negotiating a surrender.

In the last six weeks Sandinista fighters have gained control of 27 cities around the capital as well as the southern part of Nicaragua that borders Costa Rica.

President Anastasio Somoza Debayle - the third member of the Somoza dynasty to rule Nicaragua since 1937 - has fled to the United States.

This evening he abandoned the battle-torn capital with about 45 other people in five planes that landed at Homestead US Air Force base near Miami, Florida.

Earlier, he had presented his resignation to the Congress and handed over to the chairman of the lower house, Francisco Urcuyo, who is now caretaker president.

Mr Urcuyo has declared the Sandinistas will have no part in his new government and demanded they lay down their arms.

But the Sandinista-backed provisional government currently based in the city of Leon is expected to force Mr Urcuyo to resign.

The Sandinistas, named after Nicaraguan resistance leader Augusto Cesar Sandino, was set up in 1962 by Carlos Fonseca Amador, Silvio Mayorga and Tomas Borge. For the last seven years they have waged a civil war against the Somoza government.

Fighting has been at its most intense in the last two months and thousands have been killed and about half a million left homeless.

Last year, the assassination of the leader of the opposition Democratic Liberation Union, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, triggered a general strike and brought together moderates, the Roman Catholic Church and the Sandinistas in a united front against Mr Somoza

The Americans have long supported the Somoza regime but realising that the Sandinista rebels had the upper hand in the war, US officials have spent the last few weeks trying to persuade President Somoza to step down assuring him that his Liberal Party and the National Guard would survive.

Last week, William Bowdler, a special American envoy, began talks with members of the provisional government asking them to enlarge the junta by including representatives of the National Guard and Liberal Party. His request was rejected.


Yanqui imperialism: 1912-1933

Disorder in Nicaragua prompts President Taft to send a contingent of US marines in 1912 (he has sent them toHonduras the previous year). They stay, beginning two decades of direct American involvement in Nicaraguan politics.

Presidents approved of in Washington are supported in power by US troops, who also undertake the training of the Nicaraguan National Guard. US bankers are given a major role in controlling the Nicaraguan economy. This involvement, resented by many as yanqui imperialism, escalates to the point, in 1927, where 2000 US marines support an American-approved presidential candidate in warfare against forces loyal to other Nicaraguan politicians and generals. 
One of these politicians is Juan Bautista Sacasa, and among the generals is César Augusto Sandino. Sacasa soon comes to a compromise arrangement with the US Special Commissioner in Nicaragua, but Sandino refuses to lay down his arms. Instead he withdraws to the mountains of northern Nicaragua with several hundred followers to launch a guerrilla campaign.

US marines and the National Guard fail to capture him (giving him a heroic reputation in Nicaragua as a rebel), and he is still at large when the marines finally leave in 1933. By then Sandino's friend Sacasa is president. Sacasa's nephew, Anastasio Somoza García, is commander of the National Guard. 
Sandino and his men lay down their arms and make their peace with the Nicaraguan government. On 21 February 1934 he and several of his aides dine with President Sacasa. As they leave after dinner they are gunned down by members of the National Guard, the very troops who have failed to find and kill them in the mountains. The order for the assassination comes from the guard commander, Somoza.

President Sacasa, unable to protect his dinner guests from his nephew, soon falls victim himself to the young man's ambition. Somoza bundles him out of office in June 1936, and after some constitutional niceties assumes power himself. 
The Somoza years: 1937-1979

Somoza's formal induction as president, on 1 January 1937, launches more than four decades in which he and his two sons rule Nicaragua (not invariably as presidents, for they alternate in that office with trusted friends in a system which becomes known as continuismo). They do so with economic support from the USA, even though their regime is a corrupt and venal...


7 things you need to know about Operation Blue Star


Not everyone in India knows about 'Operation Blue Star'.

Operation Blue Star was a military operation which was ordered by Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, to remove Sikh militants who were amassing weapons in the Harmandir Sahib Complex (Golden Temple) in Amritsar, in order to establish control over it. The operation was launched in response to a deterioration of law and order in Punjab.

Here are the 7 things one should know about Operation Blue Star:

Where did it all start?

The roots of Operation Blue Star can be traced from the Khalistan Movement. The Khalistan Movement was a political Sikh nationalist movement that wanted to create an independent state for Sikh people, inside the current North-Western Republic of India.

The Khalistan Movement originally started in the early 1940's and 50's, but the movement was most popular in the 1970s and 1980s. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was the leader of the Damdami Taksal, was another important factor which led towards Operation Blue Star. Bhindranwale had a heavy influence on the Sikh youth in Punjab during this time as the leader of the Taksal. Bhindranwale propagated original values of Sikhism and persuaded people, both young and old to follow the rules and tenets of the religion. Bhindranwale is noted for his involvement in Operation Bluestar, in which he and Khalistan supporters occupied the Akal Takht complex, including the Golden Temple, in Amritsar. Bhindranwale was widely perceived to be a supporter for the creation of a proposed Sikhism-based theocratic state of Khalistan. The main motive of Operation Blue Star was to eliminate Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, along with other Sikh militants and regain control over the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar.

The Operation:

Operation Blue Star had two components to it. The first one was Operation Metal, which was confined to the Harmandir Sahib (the Golden Temple) complex. Operation Metal was followed by Operation Shop. It raided the Punjab countryside, in order to capture any suspects.

Following it, Operation Woodrose, the second component, was launched throughout Punjab. The operation was carried out by Indian Army, using tanks, artillery, helicopters and armored vehicles. Operation Blue Star was launched to eliminate Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and other sikh militants who had taken cover in the Amritsar Harmandir Sahib Complex. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and former Major General Shabeg Singh led the armed Sikhs within the Harmandir...

Chronology of Events


A situation which could have been resolved without a shot being fired was allowed to deteriorate to the point where the sacred sanctity of a place of worship was desecrated in the most brutal way with death and destruction. In addition to the followers of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thousands of innocent pilgrims who had gathered to celebrate a religious festival also lost their lives in the attack.

The Akal Takht, the symbolic seat of supreme Sikh temporal authority was reduced to rubble. Gurdwara Darbar Sahib was damaged with over 300 bullets. The Sikh Reference Library with precious hand written manuscripts of the Gurus was burned to the ground. The Temple treasury Toshakhana with priceless historical artifacts of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was also burned.

Tuesday May 25th
100,000 Indian Army troops are mobilized and deployed throughout Punjab surrounding all important Gurdwars including the Golden Temple complex.

Friday June 1st
Thousands of pilgrims start to gather at the Golden Temple complex to celebrate the martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan on June 3rd.

As Sant Jarnail Singh Bindranwale sits on the roof of the Langer hall, police snipers open fire on him. They miss and Sikh militants fired back. A seven hour skirmish during the night lasting until the morning leaves 11 dead and 25 injured. There were bullet holes in the Langer building, in the marble pavement (parkarma) surrounding the Golden Temple and in the Golden Temple itself.

Sunday June 3rd
All communications including phone lines to and from Punjab are cut. Road blocks prevent anyone from entering or leaving Punjab and all journalists are expelled from Punjab. A total curfew is imposed and as many as 10,000 pilgrims are trapped inside the temple complex.

Milk vendors from the villages who supply milk to the city of Amritsar are shot dead for violating the curfew orders.

Monday June 4th
The army starts firing on the temple complex and there is a gun battle lasting 5 hours. Using machine guns and mortars the army fires at dissident positions atop the two 18th century towers called Ramgarhia Bunga's, and the water tank behind Teja Singh Samundri Hall as well as surrounding buildings. At least 100 are killed on both sides.

Tuesday June 5th
At 7:00 p.m. Operation Blue Star, the invasion of The Golden Temple begins with tanks of the 16th Cavalry Regiment of the Indian Army moving to enclose the Golden Temple complex. Troops are briefed not to use their guns against the Golden Temple...


Congress opens Iran-Contra hearings today

WASHINGTON -- After months of digging into President Reagan's worst crisis, the congressional panels investigating the Iran-Contra scandal arranged to open their joint public hearings today with a key witness telling his story for the first time under the nation's probing television eye.

Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, was ready to bang the gavel at 10 a.m. EDT to open the joint Senate and House committee hearings in the historic Senate Caucus Room where he sat when the Watergate scandal unfolded 14 years ago.

'It is a complicated story. It is not a classic who-done-it,' said Inouye's vice chairman on the Senate panel, Republican Warren Rudman of New Hampshire.

The 11 senators and 15 representatives on the committees that began work in January planned a morning of opening statements before calling their first witness: retired Maj. Gen. Richard Secord, a major figure in the covert U.S. arms sales to Iran as well as efforts to supply the Nicaraguan Contras during two years when U.S. military aid to the rebels was illegal.

'He is going to begin the process of describing his role in the provision of arms to the Contras and to Iran,' said Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, a member of the Senate panel. 'I think Secord will be a forceful witness who will suggest that nothing was done wrong and that it was good for the country.'

For months, Secord had joined other major figures in refusing to testify to investigators under his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. He won a court battle last month against the Senate panel's demand that he turn over his foreign bank records believed central to the case.

But the former assistant defense secretary changed his mind last week and began giving the committees the ammunition they need to travel along the trail of money in the political crisis that has plagued Reagan since November.

Reports on the eve of today's hearing said Secord would assert no government funds were spent illegally on Contra supply efforts, deny his involvement in any conspiracy with the White House and say much of the money diverted from U.S. arms sales to Iran was not even spent.

'I think the testimony will be mixed,' said Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., the House committee chairman. 'A lot will be familiar to the American public, but I think a good bit of that testimony will be new. I think some of that new testimony will begin to appear with General Secord.'

Secord, 54, was sought...

Iran-Contra Hearings Conclude

WASHINGTON--The nation's daytime summer fireworks, the Iran-Contra hearings, came to a quiet end after a 41-day run yesterday, with none of the 29 witnesses having tied President Reagan directly to the use of arms-sales profits for the guerrillas fighting in Nicaragua.

"The president has indeed been telling the truth," said Rep. Richard Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chairman of the House committee. However, Republicans joined Democrats in a final round of speeches denouncing the secrecy and deception that brought the Reagan administration its greatest embarrassment.

"The story has now been told," said Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Senate committee. He made it a chilling story of a flawed policy "kept alive by a secret White House junta despite repeated warnings and signs of failure."

Reagan will deliver a speech on the Iran-Contra affair next week, on a day still unspecified, but spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said the president does not intend to "go into every detail" about the testimony which was spread over three months of hearings.

"It's the overall issues involved that the president wants to address," Fitzwater said.

The rare collaboration of committees from the House and Senate will continue the rest of the month. First, they will hear testimony from three CIA officials behind closed doors, then they will draft a report on the affair.

In the meantime, independent counsel Lawrence Walsh continues his separate investigation into the possibility of criminal prosecution of some of the affair's main figures. Nine of the public witnesses at the hearings testified under grants of immunity, meaning their words cannot be used against them in a future prosecution.

While there were extraordinary revelations fromsome of the key witnesses in the nationallytelevised hearings--principally former NationalSecurity Adviser John M. Poindexter and his aide,Lt. Col. Oliver North--the basic story of thecomplicated affair remained unchanged after thehearings began on May 5:

Arms had been supplied to Iran--with Reagan'sbelated assent--in hopes ofbettering relations and obtaining that country'shelp in gaining the release of American hostagesheld in Lebanon; profits were made on the sale byprivate citizens recruited by North; without thepresident's knowledge a portion of those profitswent to buy weapons for the rebels fightingNicaragua's communist government.

The hearings, said Inouye,...