If You’re One of Those People Who Tells Yourself the “Adults” in the White House Will Restrain Trump from Nuclear War—You Better Read This Article

January 15, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Donald Trump continues to taunt Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea, and threatens to attack the country of 27 million people. The world is teetering on the brink of possible nuclear war. This is real. It would mean a holocaust of indescribable suffering.

What are you doing about this? Do you hope that the “adults in the room” at the White House can steer Donald Trump away from launching a war against North Korea?

Think again. A recent article in The Atlantic reveals the cold-blooded big-power calculations behind the dangerous moves and threats the U.S. is making in the Korean Peninsula, in particular the outlook and thinking of National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, an “intellectual” in Trump’s cabinet.

McMaster is a “respected” figure in the U.S. military establishment. He is regarded as one of the “leading thinkers about the future of war.” The Atlantic article raises the question, “Why does Donald Trump’s national-security advisor insist—more vigorously than any administration official except the president himself—that Kim Jong-un must be denied the capability to place a nuclear warhead on a missile that can reach the United States, even if this requires initiating a military conflict with the North that could devolve into a cataclysmic war?”

Any U.S. military attack on North Korea—including a so-called “bloody nose” strike, a quick attack meant to send a “signal” to the North Korean leadership—would be utterly unjust aggression and a crime against humanity of monstrous proportions. And it could also escalate very quickly and horrifically into a bigger war with catastrophic consequences for millions of human lives. John Nagl, a retired lieutenant colonel who worked with McMaster in Iraq, described this scenario: “We give North Korea a ‘bloody nose.’ They respond with a conventional artillery strike on [the South Korean capital of] Seoul. We go nuclear. China mobilizes [to prevent the Kim regime’s fall]. ... There is every prospect of a ‘bloody nose’ for North Korea ending in global war between China and the United States.”

A Test of Wills

This is madness. But there’s a logic—an imperialist logic—behind this madness. McMaster and others see U.S. global dominance threatened from various quarters, with different powers and forces testing U.S. power, probing weaknesses, and seeing how the U.S. responds. McMaster draws lessons from the periods leading up to World War 1 and World War 2—periods of complex maneuvers, challenges, and tensions among different global powers that culminated in catastrophic wars among them.

McMaster thinks that similar to the 1930s, in the period leading up to WW2, multiple large and heavily armed states today confront and jockey with each other for a dominant position. These rivals and potential rivals want to “revise the global order” of U.S. domination. McMaster, the Trump/Pence regime, and the U.S. ruling class as a whole—including the Democratic Party leadership—are determined to prevail in this situation, whatever it takes. Keep in mind that an estimated 60 to 80 million people died in WW2. Today’s weaponry dwarfs the killing capacity of the arsenals used in WW2. McMaster’s study of the 1930s is not a scholarly pursuit of historic knowledge. He is calculating how to lead an empire through a tsunami of blood, death and destruction—and emerge “victorious.”

What does all this have to do with North Korea? As even many U.S. ruling class “experts” acknowledge, North Korea’s few nukes and missiles are not meant as “first strike” weapons, but are an attempt by the country’s leadership to “deter” (prevent) an attack by a much bigger power like the U.S. Kim Jong-un, head of the North Korean regime, has pointed to how U.S. and European powers pressured Muammar Qadaffi of Libya to give up that country’s nuclear program—and then he was ousted by force and killed.

For the rulers of the U.S., stopping North Korean development of nuclear weapons—by war if necessary—has major implications for their whole global power. The Atlantic article characterizes the thinking of McMaster and others: “U.S. allies and adversaries around the world are watching to see whether the United States passes or fails the test of wills on the Korean peninsula, which helps account for McMaster’s worries about sparking a nuclear-arms race and losing America’s alliance with South Korea and foothold in East Asia ... which helps explain why McMaster has set the stakes for the North Korean nuclear crisis so high.”

With this line of reasoning, such things as the recent “thaw” in relations between North and South Korea, and possible talks between the two governments, are not seen by U.S. rulers as “hopeful signs” leading away from war. In fact, if the Trump/Pence regime thinks that North Korea is making some inroads in creating divisions between South Korea and its U.S. imperialist backer, this might compel the U.S. to ramp up its war moves against North Korea, in order to avoid being seen as weak by its rivals and challengers around the world.

McMaster is no blathering loudmouth who flies off the handle with rabid rants. He doesn’t bluster about how his “nuclear button ... is a much bigger & more powerful one” than Kim Jong-un’s. He is utterly rational and cold-blooded in his calculations for conflicts that could lead to nuclear exchanges and the unimaginable death and destruction they would cause.

What Clinging to the Hope (Delusion) That Democrats Will Stop War Will Lead To

If the “sane” figures like McMaster within the regime aren’t going to prevent this war (and in fact are actively preparing and pushing for it), how about the leading Democrats?

These Democratic officials are the same people who, at their 2016 national convention to nominate Hillary Clinton, drowned out a few delegates chanting antiwar slogans by leading jingoistic chants of “USA! USA!” These are the same ruling class politicians who heaped praise on McMaster when Trump appointed him last year. The same people, like Pelosi and Schumer, who have been pushing Trump to be even tougher on sanctions against North Korea and other countries accused of trading with it—before taking the “last resort” of war. This is the same Democratic Party whose members voted unanimously last May to impose sanctions on companies who do business with North Korea. The same Democratic Party whose ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee (Edward Markey of Massachusetts) wrote a letter praising Trump for the sanctions he imposed on North Korea.

Here’s one central thing everyone in the Trump/Pence entourage and the Democratic Party agree on—it is intolerable for the U.S. to allow North Korea to maintain a nuclear deterrent.

And people are supposed to hope that these Democrats are going to stop the monsters in the White House from launching WW3?!?! They won’t—because they see their responsibility as either “bringing along” the more antiwar sections of the population when Republicans are in office and launching wars, or launching wars themselves when they are in office—when they think that the interests of the U.S. dictate doing so. These interests are imperialist interests—based on the premise of the supposed “justice” of the U.S. dominating the planet. Clinging to the hope (the delusion) that the Democrats will stop the fascists in power from going to war will facilitate these war crimes in the making.

A Challenge Facing Everyone

And that leads to a moral challenge, which we all face: Remain silent—and complicit—in the intensifying plans and moves of this regime for a criminal imperialist war... Or do everything we can to raise the alarm and rally others to say NO!, and to work to build the only thing that even has a chance of preventing this catastrophe—massive, independent action against the war. The extremely urgent situation and the huge stakes for humanity demand that people take the right stand, right now.


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