TEHRAN (Press Shia) – An American political commentator deplored the US government’s propaganda campaigns against Iran and North Korea as “xenophobic” and said President Donald Trump’s advisers are “all war-loving psychopaths”.
“Trump's advisers are all war-loving psychopaths, so the logical conclusion is that this is the first step toward some sort of conflict….either with the DPRK or with Iran,” John Steppling, who is based in Norway, told the Press Shia News Agency in an interview.
“I can only say again that the attacks in the media and in Washington, against both Iran and the DPRK are both racist, imperialist, and xenophobic,” he said, adding, “That is always there right beneath the surface.”
Steppling is a well-known author, playwright and an original founding member of the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, a two-time NEA recipient, Rockefeller Fellow in theater, and PEN-West winner for playwriting. He is also a regular political commentator for a number of media outlets around the world.
Following is the full text of the interview:
Press Shia: US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un concluded their recent historic summit in Singapore by signing a deal that included a pledge to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” What do you think about the agreement and how do you predict its success given Washington’s non-commitment to international treaties?
Steppling: Well, the first thing to note is that in the US, the Democratic Party is complaining openly about this. Liberal op-ed pieces in places like the NY Times are consistently negative. It is just stunning. One might almost think the Democrats were the real war party. Chuck Schumer, and it should be noted that Schumer is right at the top of the list of the most odious American politicians of his generation. Schumer is aghast at the summit with Kim Jong-Un. The minority leader is attacking Trump from the right, as are most of the Democratic Party. Now, the second thing to note is that yes, of course, the US has a long history of not keeping their word. However, I am struck by the disturbing orientalism of even supposed leftist commentators. The DPRK is routinely described as an Orwellian garrison state and totalitarian and the like. This is from the left. There is a terrible racist underpinning to these kinds of remarks. One expects NY Times type liberals to lament anything Trump does. If he found a cure for cancer they would demand Cancer be allowed to exist and have agency. I mean it is truly bizarre. But it is particularly depressing to have so many self-identified leftists demonize North Korea, as well. Having said that, the truth is the people of North Korea have survived in a heroic fashion after total destruction by the US in the early 1950s. The fact that "we" don't "understand" the culture is simply that. I've never been to the DPRK. But Christopher Black, a noted human rights lawyer from Canada, HAS been there. He traveled there with a group of international lawyers and together they issued a statement…and I quote an excerpt…: "The people of the world have to be told the complete story about Korea and our government’s role in fostering imbalance and conflict. Action must be taken by lawyers, community groups, peace activists and all citizens of the planet, to prevent the US government from successfully generating a propaganda campaign to support aggression in North Korea. The American people have been subjected to a grand deception."
Press Shia: As you know, Trump recently announced the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, US, Britain, France, and Germany). Prior to the move, the US had repeatedly violated the international pact by imposing numerous sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Given Washington’s non-commitment to such an important international agreement, what would be a guarantee of success of the US-North Korea deal?
Steppling: What is interesting in this deal is how it relates to the JCPOA. National Security Advisor John Bolton has openly referred to the "Libya Model". Meaning, after promising Libya and Qaddafi certain things in return for elimination of nuclear development (under Bush) the US came to destroy the country and assassinate Qaddafi. So it is hard to believe the US means what it says this time. On the other hand, it feels perhaps too cynical in principle to simply discount the agreement. You also have to factor in the significant role China plays in the North Korean economy. Trump's advisors are all war-loving psychopaths, so the logical conclusion is that this is the first step toward some sort of conflict….either with the DPRK or with Iran. What the actual logic might be is anyone's guess. But it is a fair assumption to believe that China looms as a strategic consideration.
The US sees the world hierarchically. Countries are ranked in order of importance and the US is always at the top. For many, this American exceptionalism is buried beneath other kinds of rhetoric, but it is there all the same. Some countries can have nukes and some can’t. It is, from the politicians' point of view, demeaning to be seen talking to "certain kinds of people". Unless of course, those people are buying lots of weapons (think Saudi Arabia). I can only say again that the attacks in the media and in Washington, against both Iran and the DPRK are both racist, imperialist, and xenophobic. That is always there right beneath the surface.