Revolutionary Worker #1200, May 25, 2003, posted at rwor.org
We received the following from the A World to Win News Service:
12 May 2003. A World to Win News Service.Fifty years after being defeated in the Korean War, the United States has threatened to roll its war juggernaut once again in that region. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon, the U.S. has been bullying around the world more than ever before. Since then, the U.S. attacked Afghanistan, killing thousands of Afghanistani people, destroying natural resources and destabilising the whole country. It developed the so-called pre-emptive strike military doctrine and occupied Iraq. Iraq, Iran and North Korea were defined as the "axis of evil." The U.S. labelled the North Korean government a "terrorist regime." According to a New York Times columnist (28 February), the Pentagon has developed secret plans for a possible military strike against North Korea.
North Korea has three main demands of the U.S. First of all, North Korea wants nuclear weapons- free status for the Korean peninsula, security guarantees and a package of humanitarian and economic aid. Secondly, North Korea wants the United States to sign a non-aggression treaty. If the U.S. would sign the treaty, North Korea has said it is ready to accept independent verification of the freezing of its atomic weapons program. But the U.S. is not ready to accept these conditions. Thirdly, North Korea wants to resolve these contradictions through bilateral negotiations between the United States and North Korea. But the United States is against this demand.
In fact, U.S. imperialism likes the proposal for a nuclear weapons-free Korean peninsula; that is, North Korea must abandon its nuclear weapons programme, no matter what weapons the U.S. or its allies hold. (The U.S. claims that it has withdrawn the nuclear weapons it kept in South Korea for many decades, while refusing to allow international inspections to verify this.) But the U.S. considers the other proposals "blackmail." If the U.S. were to meet the North Korean demands, there would no longer be any justification for American troops and bases in South Korea. The U.S. signed a cease-fire in 1953 but has refused to sign a treaty putting a formal end to the war. If the U.S. were not an obstacle, both Korean states would head towards reunification. Despite the American forces stationed in South Korea, that process is underway anyway. There was a conference between the leaders of both Koreas in North Korea in June 2000. Some of the measures they agreed to have already been taken. For instance, divided families of each territory were allowed to meet each other, and some political and economic interchanges were made. North Korea wants unification soon and the South wants it through a longer step-by-step process.
Why is the U.S. so opposed to bilateral negotiation with North Korea? It has argued that if it negotiates alone, North Korea will attempt to split Washington from its Asian allies, who would pressure the United States to strike a deal on North Korea's terms. More than the arguments the United States has made, there are many other reasons why it wants a multilateral dialogue. First of all, the U.S. wants China to play a role as its instrument to weaken North Korea. North Korea seems to have been receiving lukewarm support from China, and American bullying against North Korea involves China directly or indirectly. Secondly, if the multilateral dialogue were held, Japan and South Korea, despite the public wrath against U.S. imperialism in their countries and their own contradictions, would be obliged to support America. And thirdly, the U.S. wants a multilateral dialogue to internationalize the issue of American charges that North Korea possesses nuclear weapons. That is exactly what happened in the meeting in Beijing that took place at the end of April. Obviously, the tug-of-war in the Beijing meeting involved North Korea trying to drag the United States to its own agenda, and vice-versa. Notably, the meeting ended earlier than scheduled.
However another burning issue has never been raised in a straightforward manner: North Korea's 1.1 million soldiers on the border of neighboring China, whose own armed forces could see North Korea as a vital buffer for China's northeastern provinces. The U.S. has stationed 37,000 troops in South Korea for 50 years. North Korea's forces are an extremely important concern from U.S. imperialism's strategic military viewpoint.
After World War 2, the United States took over southern Korea from Japan, just as it later did with southern Vietnam. Contrary to international agreements and the wishes of the people of those countries, U.S. imperialism perpetuated these divisions. Because of the inspiration of socialism, the leadership of Mao Tsetung, and Chinese aid, the U.S. was dealt severe defeats. The American armed forces failed in their war against North Korea, although three million people were killed, according to Western historians, and U.S. bombs completely devastated the north. They were also driven out of Vietnam, at a high cost to the people there as well (over a million dead). But the U.S. refused to withdraw its forces from South Korea (and other countries), so as to maintain its imperialist domination and hegemony in this region. In the present context when it has emerged as the world's sole superpower, it still wants to dominate China, even though China is no longer a socialist country. In fact, China is becoming increasingly integrated into the world imperialist system, including serving as a supplier of cheap labour for the U.S.
After the counter-revolution following the death of Stalin when the Soviet Union degenerated and became social-imperialist ("socialist" in words but imperialist in deeds), North Korea remained close to the USSR. Over time, North Korea developed atomic energy to produce electricity. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States again attempted to find excuses to bully North Korea. According to The New York Times,"Russian intelligence officers secretly placed sophisticated nuclear detection equipment inside North Korea at the request of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the 1990s to assist the United States in tracking the North Korean nuclear weapons program." The Clinton administration intervened in North Korea on this issue.
In 1994, the Clinton administration signed a deal with North Korea, agreeing that the U.S. would provide North Korean oil for energy in return for freezing its nuclear reactors. When George Bush came to power, he flouted the deal signed by Clinton. Because North Korea needed electric power to light their bulbs and run electronic machinery, it was forced to reactivate the nuclear plants. North Korea demanded that the U.S. respect the deal they signed. In response to these demands, U.S. labeled them part of the "axis of evil" and a "terrorist regime" last year.
Now the U.S. has been arguing that North Korea must stop using these nuclear reactors altogether. It has also been claiming that since North Korea withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty it signed in 1985, and from the deal with the Clinton administration, the North is in violation of international treaties. Not only that, the U.S. could not help but bluster that it has all options on the table, including military action. Again, in order to legitimate these hoodlum threats, the U.S. presented evidence that had been collected in its spying through the Russian embassy in North Korea.
The crux of the problem is the unjust imperialist and reactionary system in which the big powers dictate to Third World countries and problems cannot be solved in the interests of the masses. But even in terms of imperialist international law and standards, who violated the deal first? It is George W. Bush, the president of America, who unilaterally violated the deal signed by Clinton. He is the one who in the run-up to the occupation of Iraq signed National Security Presidential Directive 17, which said, "the United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force--including potentially nuclear weapons--to the use of [weapons of mass destruction] against the United States..." One of the main reasons why the U.S. was able to get other countries to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in previous decades was that it promised never to use atomic weapons against countries that had no such weapons themselves. Wasn't Bush's declaration a deal-breaker, a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty?
The United States has been provoking South Korea to increase hostility against the North. But South Korea's president Roh says he would break its "friendship" with the United States before he would impose economic sanctions against North Korea. He has given strong indications that he intends to accelerate South Korea's embrace of North Korea even as the United States looks for ways to ratchet up pressure on North Korea. Pursuing the ongoing unity process between the two Koreas, and dismaying Washington, Roh spoke of establishing an economic community with North Korea and stepping up trade aid and investment there, ruling out economic sanctions and military strikes against the country and even personally guaranteeing North Korea's security. Roh said, "It is better to struggle than to suffer deaths in a war. Koreans should stand together, although things will get difficult when the United States bosses us around." ( NYT , 25 February). At the same moment, however, Roh was one of the few heads of state to support Bush's war on Iraq, despite very strong sentiment and protests against it in South Korea. Whatever the wishes of South Korea's rulers, they are tied to the U.S. and other imperialists (especially Japan, another potential rival to the U.S.) by a thousand threads, and the future of this process is unclear.
Here is the simple logic of a complex problem: the U.S. has been bullying around the world, causing a lot of hardship for the people of the world, dominating region after region. And in the case of North Korea, it has been hammering at its unity efforts, its economy and its national security by waving an imperialist sword around its head. While U.S. imperialism has been threatening a sovereign country "with all options on the table," is it unjust for North Korea to pick up a big stick or even a log for self-defense?
The U.S. has been claiming that sovereign countries threaten the American people and the interests of the United States. North Korea has never stationed its troops in or near the United States. Rather, the United States has put 37,000 troops right before the gates of North Korea for 50 years. So far as the propaganda about the threat against the American people is concerned, this is the reactionary method of parading fabricated public opinion to justify invading any country. So far as the question of American interests is concerned, the people of the world have been fighting not against the American people, but against the predatory nature of imperialism. Now, if the U.S. feels that it is under threat, it must take its army off the Korean peninsula. That would help to establish peace and stability in the region. And the U.S. would also have peace of mind, at least in the case of the Korean peninsula. Why is the U.S. still there on the soil of other people, complaining about the "threat" and troubling the nations?
In the Korean peninsula, there is a leadership problem. Neither Kim Jong Il, the president of North Korea, nor Roh Moo, the president of South Korea, seems to be leading the masses to drive out the American occupation forces from South Korea. Nevertheless, whatever resistance the regimes have been putting up is because of the sentiments of the Korean people, who want their country united. Instead of politically materializing the wishes of the masses for a united Korea, the South Korean regime has been playing into the hands of U.S. imperialism. And in the same way, the North Korean regime has been gambling with nuclear weapons. This kind of regime, in the long run, cannot safeguard the interest of the masses of the people. History has demonstrated that the North Korean regime derailed from the socialist track long ago. In the great debate between socialist China and Soviet social-imperialism, the North Korean regime did not take the Maoist side; rather it adopted what it called the "Juche idea," which means self-reliance. Nevertheless, after the death of Mao Tsetung, North Korea mainly relied on the social- imperialist USSR. Now, it has been applying the same tactics of nuclear blackmailing, nuclear gambling and playing with nuclear bombs that Khrushchev developed after he restored capitalism in the USSR.
Finally, the Korean people, reeling under spiraling imperialist domination and domestic misleaders, have to stand up themselves to get rid of the ever-intensifying imperialist threats.
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