Peaceful resolution of Korea confrontation is needed


In recent weeks, a war of rhetoric and provocative actions has flared up between North Korea on the one hand, and South Korea and the United States on the other. We have heard much about the hostile language of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. But the American people should also understand that provocative actions by the U.S. and South Korean governments have contributed mightily to the tensions. These include U.S. and South Korean joint military maneuvers, including trial bombing runs by U.S. B-2 Stealth bombers.

There is no sign of troop movements in the North that could indicate Kim's words are about to be backed up with military action, but there is nevertheless a real danger that the tensions might lead to an armed incident, with tragic consequences.

The corporate media has concentrated on bellicose statements by Kim Jong-un, who has talked about massive retaliation against South Korean and U.S. targets if his country is attacked. Although these over-the-top statements and nuclear posturing have contributed to tensions and cannot be condoned, irresponsible rhetoric and actions are not a monopoly of the North.

South Korean President Park Guen-hye also said, "I believe that we should make a strong and immediate retaliation without any other political considerations if [the North] stages any provocation against our people." A "provocation" could be any small-scale incident.

Some context is helpful to understand these developments.

The Korean War of 1950-1953 ended with an armistice only; technically, the war has never ended. Since that time, the North has been a poor and isolated state (population 24 million), which considers itself threatened on a daily basis by South Korea (population 50 million) and by the 28,000 U.S. troops and much military hardware stationed south of its border.

Unfortunately, North Korea seems to be using nuclear weapons as a way of redressing the balance of power. This brinkmanship has led to economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations, especially after North Korea's atomic test in February and recent rocketry tests. Using nuclear weapons like this is a dangerous and slippery road. The international peace movement has, correctly in our view, urged a nuclear-free Korean peninsula for many years.

The U.S. has a great deal of responsibility to bear for creating this current mess. Not only the provocative ongoing military exercises and our own use of nuclear weapons, but the recent interventions in Libya and elsewhere contribute to the tensions on the peninsula.

It is in the interest of the American people and the worldwide peace majority that all parties - on all sides - publicly commit to a peaceful resolution. China, Venezuela, Ecuador and other countries, as well as Pope Francis in his first Easter message, called for a reduction of tensions and a peaceful resolution of the Korea confrontation.

The U.S. should not use military maneuvers in Korea to try out new weapons and make political points, but instead should coordinate with China and other countries to calm down this dangerously overwrought situation.

Photo: U.S. Army soldiers conduct room clearing procedures as part of joint command and field training exercises in South Korea in 2007. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel N. Woods.

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  • I appreciate the PW staff's willingness to be as objective as they can on this issue. As regarding whose responsible for the tensions, there is Certainly much blame to go around on both sides. That said, we cannot deny facts in the name of rushing to the defense of a nominally socialist country.

    Regardless of whether or not North Korea was, at one point, relatively prosperous, or whether or not their present lack of prosperity is due to their own extreme isolationism or western sanctions or some combination of both, North Korea is the least democratic, and most oppressive totalitarian regime in the world, with Orwellian style repression and censorship and concentration camps imprisoning generations, and furthermore North Korean Juche is an outright betrayal of Marxist-Leninism.

    Of course none of this is a justification for war. I'm just concerned that oftentimes members of the party engage in denial of the totalitarianism practiced in the name of communism and uncritically rush to the aid of nominally socialist regimes, claiming that any evidence of repression is merely western propaganda. We can't do that, its simply intellectually dishonest.

    Marx says: "In bourgeois society Capital is independent and has individuality while the living person is dependent and has no individuality." The point of communism is for people to find freedom, true democracy, and collective, personal fulfillment especially in their labor, and sadly most nominally socialist regimes have failed to provide any of these en masse. If we are to build a socialist society we need to start by stopping our denial of the failures of already existing nominally socialist states and actually learn from the mistakes of the past rather than merely giving lip service to doing so.

    Posted by Andrew, 04/13/2013 12:33am (2 years ago)

  • Interesting times these are!
    I'm old enough to remember how much of it all began in post world war Korea. The country was divided (spoils of war) USA got the south and USSR took the north.
    When Korea began their civil war in June of 1950...USA jumped in with full force bombed North Korea into oblivion (480,000 bombs in all) At the end of this civil conflict in 1953, both countries lay in ruins.
    USSR helped North Korea rebuild and USA helped South Korea rebuild. These days General Motors builds over a million cars a year there. Meanwhile, we buy Kias & Hyundai's by the boatload. Now Detroit lies in ruins ! Truth is, America can tear down and rebuild probably better than any nation on Earth.

    At the height of the Korean War, American leaders threatened to use the A Bomb. This was just a few years after nuking Japan.
    Not surprising it kinda makes both Koreas very nervous...... you bet!

    Posted by jules, 04/09/2013 9:58pm (2 years ago)

  • The DPRK was not always "a poor and isolated state." On the contrary, north Korea was a regional industrial power for much of its history, and a developing nation which provided its people with full employment, free housing, an admirable standard of living and comprehensive social safety provisions. The Korean people accomplished this through socialist economic planning, as well as cooperation with, and support from, other nations of socialism. This article neglects to mention the real causes of north Korea's economic woes--crushing sanctions that are designed to suffocate that nation's development--or the real motives behind US aggression toward the DPRK, which can be found in monopoly capital's impulse to stifle any economic model which runs contrary to the Washington consensus.

    While the Editorial Staff rightly point out that the media have "concentrated on" the DPRK government's warnings, the general tone of the article tends to put equal blame on the DPRK leadership for igniting these tensions. Looking at the situation objectively, however, it is hard to imagine how the DPRK can be construed as much of a threat to the US or its allies--especially in light of US military posturing in the ROK, and the US government's ceaseless campaign of economic warfare and propaganda against the DPRK. Moreover, it's clear to any unbiased observer that north Korea's nuclear development program is entirely defensive in nature; in light of recent developments in Libya and Syria, it doesn't take a stretch of the imagination to understand why Kim Jong Un's administration would seek to develop a nuclear deterrent.

    Rather than concede to Corporate Media's portrayal of Kim Jong Un's "hostile language" as being some kind of provocation, the Editorial Staff should recognize the true intent of his message--to make clear the Korean people's commitment to preserving their national independence, their dignity and their unique, socialist system in the face of the Pentagon's proven record of aggression toward that and many other independent nations.

    Posted by Jason , 04/05/2013 4:15am (2 years ago)

  • I don't think anti-imperialist Americans should criticize the DPRK for possessing nuclear weapons. After all, the US (most heavily armed imperialist state in the world) has labeled the DPRK 'evil' (along with Iran and Iraq, while they were raining bombs on the latter), and the US has never invaded a nuclear-armed country. Some of the over-the-top rhetoric is regrettable, but there is certainly a strong logic to their maintenance of a defensive nuclear capacity. A nuclear-free world is of course the ideal, but the first move in this direction should be from the world's leading nuclear power, not a small, besieged nation such as this.

    Posted by Brad, 04/04/2013 7:59pm (2 years ago)

  • Why should the West get so excited when Kim says that he will use everything to defend his country? Making a mountain out of a mole hill puts government monies into the military industrial complex. This was what Old Bush was doing when he said N Korea was evil.

    Posted by Joe Sompolinsky, 04/03/2013 11:28pm (2 years ago)

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