North Korea war danger: Déjà vu all over again
A man watches a television screen showing U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea on August 10. | Ahn Young-joon / AP

The war drums are beating. Yesterday it was Iraq, today North Korea.

Like Yogi Berra said it’s déjà vu all over again. The scenario is all too familiar.

First, identify and demonize an enemy. Second, exaggerate their military capabilities and threats to the homeland. (“Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons!” “North Korean missiles can strike the West Coast and even Chicago!”)

Third, use your economic might and the threat of sanctions to create an international consensus against the enemy. Fourth, dismiss any peace proposals coming from the other side. (Better yet, don’t even report them.)

And fifth, dismiss history and any legitimate grievances the other side may entertain.

North Korea has never attacked the United States of America. The reverse cannot be said.

During the Korean War, which began in 1950, the U.S. intervened in a civil war on Korean soil, resulting in the death of over one million North Koreans, with an estimated 600,000 civilian causalities. Our Air Force carpet-bombed North Korean cities, dropping over 600,000 tons of explosives, including 32,000 tons of napalm.

In the South, the U.S.-supported government murdered at least 100,000 “leftist sympathizers” who favored a united Korea.

The issues arising out that conflict almost seven decades ago have yet to be resolved. But is it understandable that North Korea, given history, is wary of American intentions?

North Korea is one-half of a small country, with military technologies far inferior to the United States, which spends more on weapons of destruction—mass and otherwise—than the next five leading countries combined.

There is evidence that the U.S. ignored peace feelers from Saddam Hussein prior to the start of war. North Korea has offered to halt its nuclear program in return for the U.S. and South Korea halting military maneuvers in the South and off the coast. Why is it that this proposal has not been mentioned as a possible way to resolve the immediate crisis?

With a scandal-ridden administration in Washington desperate to reverse course and generals increasingly in charge of key government posts, the situation is dangerous and only getting worse. (There is a reason to have civilian control of the military.)

If reason and reasonable people prevail, peace has a chance.

The alternative? Another Korean War. Another Vietnam. Another Iraq or Afghanistan. Or worse.

Les Bayless is a retired union organizer. Jim Baldridge is a former president MD/DC Alliance for Retired Americans. Cindy Farquhar is a retired RN.


Les Bayless
Les Bayless

Les Bayless is a long-time activist, blues lover and sports fan living in Baltimore.

Jim Baldridge
Jim Baldridge

The late Jim Baldridge of Baltimore was a staunch union man, a member of the Shipbuilder’s Industrial Union repairing ocean-going ships until the yard closed. He found work at Johns Hopkins Hospital and joined Local 1199. He walked the picketlines and joined mass marches through Baltimore. Jim was a member of Veterans for Peace and drove his pickup festooned with anti-war placards in the Martin Luther King Jr. parade on MLK Boulevard every year. Jim was the strong, quiet, unifying presence in this lifetime of work to change the world.

Cindy Farquhar
Cindy Farquhar

Cindy Farquhar is a progressive community activist in Baltimore.