Public Gullibility and the Media
CBC's Korean Amnesia

by Kim Petersen

Dissident Voice

April 26, 2003



Fool me once,

Shame on you;

Fool me twice,

Shame on me.


-- Chinese proverb


Or is it a Chinese proverb? Leap forward to the 23rd century on the bridge of the spaceship Enterprise and Chief Engineer Scotty: “There’s an old, old saying on Earth Mr. Sulu: ‘Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.’" To this Ensign Chekhov chimed in: “I know this saying, it was invented in Russia.”


Then return back to last year on 17 September when President George W. Bush did his humorous take on the proverb before a Nashville, Tennessee audience that was broadcast on MSNBC-TV: "There's an old ... saying in Tennessee ... I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says Fool me once ... (3 second pause) ... Shame on ... (4 second pause) ... Shame on you ... (6 second pause) ... Fool me ... Can't get fooled again." (Can be listened to at http://www.bushwatch.net/ourfearlessleader.mp3)  


This etymological goose chase was spurred by Joe Schlesinger’s documentary report on the CBC news program, “The National,” of 24 April. Mr. Schlesinger’s report was prefaced by National anchor Peter Mansbridge’s comments: “As you heard earlier in the program North Korea has confirmed it has nuclear weapons.” Oh really!? Earlier in the program Mr. Mansbridge had said: “Whitehouse officials say North Korea has confirmed it has nuclear weapons.” That tendentious sleight-of-hand of removing attribution to Washington sources skewed the perception.


If we travel back to October 2002 we can compare the first report of North Korean confirmation of an active nuclear program. The CBC had reported: “North Korea has revealed that it has a secret nuclear weapons program, a U.S. official said Wednesday.” (1)


US prevarication, shoddy intelligence, dirty tricks, and metamorphizing casus belli were the Washington tactics in pursuit of a violent takeover of Iraqi oil. The history of phony US war pretexts from adventurism in Mexico and Cuba to the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam has returned to North Korea. The North Koreans apparently have a predilection to disclose their nuclear capability to the US only. Haven’t we seen this movie before?


“The National” didn’t discuss why North Korea only reveals its nuclear secrets to the US? Yet the US track record, including recently, isn’t one that invites immediate belief. Why, with such a track record, are releases out of Washington unquestioningly promulgated to the media consumer? What about the media’s role as a monitor of the power centers?


The documentary described a generational divide over US military bases in South Korea. Elder Koreans were portrayed as supporting the US military, cognizant of the historical US sacrifice for the Korean people. The unwitting and ungrateful younger generation were depicted as enjoying the fruits of a vibrant economy, in part, courtesy of Uncle Sam’s benevolent role in Korean history.


Mr. Schlesinger didn’t see fit to investigate the disgruntlement over the US military presence in South Korea. Could it be the coming to light of US complicity in many massacres in South Korea has, understandably, disgusted the younger Koreans? Couldn’t it be that the younger generation considers the US bases a de facto occupation? Rampant crime by US military personnel and the outgrowth of prostitution near US bases surely don’t paint a pleasant picture. Why are the bases in South Korea there at all today? South Korea is technologically far superior militarily to the North. The American presence also serves as a source of provocation to the North. It is a hindrance to the Korean dream of reunification.


For the US South Korea plays a geo-strategic role as a bulwark against China and Russia. China now finds itself almost completely encircled after the establishment of US military bases in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Krygystan, Tajikistan, and maybe later Kazakhstan. But what is in it for the South Koreans?


Why didn’t Mr. Schlesinger delve more into the historical background?


Maybe he didn’t want to reveal untidy facts as the American betrayal of Korea in 1910 when the US and Japan engaged in the diplomatic horse-trading of the Taft-Katsura agreement. The US had effectively approved the Japanese takeover and occupation of Korea in return for non-interference of its hegemony in the Philippines.


Neither would it present a flattering picture to mention the proceedings at the Yalta Conference in February 1945, where US President Roosevelt called for a long-term Korean caretaker role and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin called for immediate independence.


The US occupation began by crushing the popular movement in Korea; the Japanese occupiers were reinstalled, later to be replaced by a US puppet Syngman Rhee. The selection of an Americanized Christian Korean to rule over the mainly Buddhist nation has eerie overtones for today’s Iraq. The sensitivity of imposing Zionist Lt. Gen. Garner and the convicted crook Ahmed Chalabi, whose henchmen have already partaken of the looting in Iraq, is revealing.


In fact, a review of Korean history may best provide the paradigm for what to expect in Iraq. Democracy, no. Long-term military occupation, yes.


The independent and incorruptible journalistic icon I.F. Stone offered the sage advice: “Every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.”


Kim Petersen is an English teacher living in China. He can be contacted at: kotto2001@hotmail.com




(1) CBC Online staff, “N. Korea has nuclear program, U.S. official says,” CBC News, 17 October 2002: http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2002/10/16/korea_nuclear021016




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