Sanctions, Rhetoric, and Possible Boarding of Vessels vs. North Korea

by | Feb 26, 2018 | Headline News | 11 comments

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    On Friday, 2/23/18, the Trump Administration announced the implementation of even stronger sanctions against North Korea to force it into compliance regarding its nuclear weapons. The New York Times reported on the revised sanctions, and here’s an excerpt:

    The measures target 27 shipping companies and 28 vessels, registered in North Korea and six other countries, including China. The Treasury Department said the shipping firms are part of a sophisticated campaign to help North Korea evade United Nations sanctions restricting imports of refined fuel and exports of coal.       

    President Trump later released the following statement to reporters during a joint news conference with the Prime Minister of Australia as reported by Reuters on Friday, 2/23/18:

    “If the sanctions don’t work, we will have to go to phase two, and phase two may be a very rough thing, may be very, very unfortunate for the world.”

    That doesn’t sound very positive… “very, very unfortunate for the world” seems to imply something big. Sounds as if it may mean war, and not to one limited between the U.S. and North Korea.

    Two of the stated overall U.S. objectives regarding interception of ships by U.S. naval forces is to halt North Korea’s importation of fuel and their exportation of coal. Here’s a statement from a Newsweek article on Friday, 2/23 entitled John Bolton Blasts Trump’s New North Korea Sanctions as Worthless, that describes the planned actions:

    “The measures target 27 shipping companies and 28 vessels, registered in North Korea and six other countries, including China,” The New York Times reported on Friday. “The Treasury Department said the shipping firms are part of a sophisticated campaign to help North Korea evade United Nations sanctions restricting imports of refined fuel and exports of coal.”

    Well, before that “Phase 2” occurs, it may just need a tipping point…and that venue may have been found with the other proposition: that U.S. Coast Guard vessels may be used to search, and board ships suspected of carrying out trade with North Korea outside of the embargo. They will also search the vessels for any weapons or parts for weapons systems.

    Yes, you read that correctly, the U.S. Coast Guard! As if they don’t have enough to deal with in U.S. waters with drug smuggling and illegal aliens, let alone to patrol our waters and protect from foreign naval vessels. Now they’re going to be pressed into service to police vessels in Asia. Here’s another excerpt as reported through Reuters and reprinted in Newsweek from Friday, 2/23 entitled North Korea Sanctions Evaders Beware: U.S. Planning Major High Seas Crackdownthat is “telling” if you study it clearly:

    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters in Washington on Friday the United States does not rule out boarding ships for inspections. But U.S. officials said privately that such action, especially the use of boarding crews, would be decided on a case-by-case and with utmost caution. Some U.S. officials believe the risk could be minimized if Coast Guard cutters, which carry less firepower and technically engage in law-enforcement missions, are used in certain cases rather than warships.

    The Coast Guard declined to address whether it might deploy ships to the Asia-Pacific region but acknowledged its ties to countries there. “Future ship deployments would depend on U.S. foreign policy objectives and the operational availability of our assets,” said spokesman Lieutenant Commander Dave French.

    Mnuchin…a banker, and now involved in what amounts to a military operation, if the Coast Guard is even considered. Why would the U.S. Treasury Department be involved in any of this? Then that last “cowed” and perfectly-crafted, politically-correct statement by Lieutenant Commander French, showing that despite the Coast Guard’s mission to be used for the defense of our shores (WWII being an exception for foreign deployment, as we were in the fight for our existence), they will now potentially deploy in the Far East…when the Treasury Department jerks the leash.

    Perhaps the Treasury Department will want to “impound” the cargo. It’s a state actor-entity confiscating the cargo, after all…certainly not piracy.

    Undoubtedly the “criteria for the case-by-case basis” will be that the CG will board any vessel that will not resist, such as a fishing vessel: if they’re weaker, we’ll board them. The above statement even mentions that the U.S. doesn’t want to use a warship: we’ll go in potentially “outgunned” from the beginning. So, what is the incentive for the vessel to allow the CG to board them, or not to fire upon them?

    The potential flashpoint for a false-flag narrative is being created: an “attack on a U.S. Coast Guard vessel” that leads into a war…justification for an attack on North Korea.

    North Korea is not going to back down. We know this. We also know that the U.S. is ratcheting up the sanctions and actions. Eventually the tipping point for either side will be reached. Another factor to consider is “Russia-gate” with one man already having pled guilty on Friday 2/23 to conspiracy with a foreign government (that being Russia) against the United States. It will just escalate from there, as we know, whether contrived or whether the charges have any basis in fact.

    The questions remain: how far will the (in)Justice Department pursue this, and as it affects the President’s position, will he utilize the military option against North Korea to deflect attention? Time will tell, but once again, we are entering a situation where either side may enter into a conflict to save face. Always at the expense of the average person, and we’ll never find out the facts of who initiated it until long after it occurred.

    Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne).  Mr. Johnson is also a Gunsmith, a Certified Master Herbalist, a Montana Master Food Preserver, and a graduate of the U.S. Army’s SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape).  He lives in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with his wife and three cats. You can follow Jeremiah’s regular writings at or contact him here.

    This article may be republished or excerpted with proper attribution to the author and a link to


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      1. man oh man – that’s one VERY bad decision for the Coast Guard to be used where North Korean gunboats could be present – they are equipped with some heavy artillery including full sized surface to surface missiles – even the largest CG cutter couldn’t survive a missile hit ….

      2. So? A school-shooting, a country and western festival riddled with bodies and a piss-poor excuse of an Olympics have come and gone. What’s next? Yawn, ‘…’ time for a little nuclear showdown. You know the worst part of all this and those things above I just wrote – they are all part of the same agenda, the same plan. My hats off to those who are conducting this elaborate shindig. Your lack of scruples, ethics, moral or any empathy/sympathy for humanity is absolutely award-winning.

      3. I can see clearly that another “Gulf of Tonkin” incident is in the works. After all, we have to have a causas belli to go to war, Fat Kim must make the first attack. Of course, there never was any attack on a Navy destroyer back then, a total false flag attack, just like the sinking of the USS Maine in the Havana harbor or the Reichstag fire or the “attack” by Polish soldiers on NAZI radio stations in Germany. Other such will be familiar to most readers here.

        Over at is a piece by “High Desert” on the perils of setting up a bugout location. Worth your time to read.

        BoA now reports that 13 of 19 indicators now tell of a coming serious bear market. Well, as the saying goes, “NO SHIT Sherlock.”

      4. Its like asking a game warden to take a freshly killed anminal from a pack of starving coyotes… Good luck with that idea…

      5. Surely, if you board ships in international waters, this would be construed universally as an act of piracy?

        So America is now going to be reduced to overt acts of piracy? Welcome to the United Somalian State of America.

      6. The tipping point is always about to be reached. Boring.

      7. Did I dream that or did I just hear Trump bragging about militarizing our police on fox news?

      8. IW, agreed. The Coast Guard vessels are NOT equipped to handle something like this so yes Navy warships are far more suitable for the task. My 2 Korean War vet uncles told me the only way to effectively deal with NKs is shoot them dead. It’s a safe bet that the NKs would strongly resist any attempt to board their vessels. Just let any Coast Guard vessel get sunk by the NKs and it would be game on. What hasn’t been mentioned is what international law says about the idea of boarding someone else’s vessels.

      9. North Korea tramples over human rights more than any other country. We’re looking for Chinese help to deal with them. We gloss over the abuse of human rights by China. They move tens of millions of people(mostly unemployed) to the countryside to keep them from becoming a problem. The chinese are like the marbles in chinese checkers. It is certainly better than under the Great Leap Forward. Crazy things are happening in China especially in their real estate market. Interesting times!

      10. Surely, after the US signed the Treaty of Tripoli the US are breaking their own agreement? Then again, the bankers who rule the US have never bothered about international laws, so why get into a stew about things we can’t (or don’t want) to change?

        This is simply a site for sad old farts who enjoyed the good life of the 50’s and 60’s and who kept on taking without putting anything back. Now they blame everyone but themselves for the mistakes they contributed to 40 or 50 years ago.

      11. For those wondering as I did about the authority under which th US Coast Guard functions, her is some basic info from Wikipedia.

        The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is a branch of the United States Armed Forces[6] and one of the country’s seven uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the U.S. military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission (with jurisdiction in both domestic and international waters) and a federal regulatory agency mission as part of its mission set. It operates under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, and can be transferred to the U.S. Department of the Navy by the U.S. President at any time, or by the U.S. Congress during times of war. This has happened twice, in 1917, during World War I, and in 1941, during World War II.

        The Coast Guard’s legal authority differs from the other four armed services, as it operates simultaneously under Title 10 of the U.S. Code and its other organic authorities, such as Titles 6, 14, 19, 33, and 46. Because of its legal authority, the Coast Guard can conduct military operations under the U.S. Department of Defense or directly for the President in accordance with Title 14 USC 1–3. The Coast Guard’s enduring roles are maritime safety, security, and stewardship. To carry out those roles, it has 11 statutory missions as defined in 6 U.S.C. § 468, which include enforcing U.S. law in the world’s largest exclusive economic zone of 3.4 million square miles (8,800,000 km2). The Coast Guard’s motto Semper Paratus means Always ready in Latin.

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