Join IGE in Grand Rapids to oppose U.S. war threats
Progressives in the Park
Wilcox Park, 100 Youell Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI
4pm to 8pm
Today, July 18
U.S. Peace Council
July 14, 2017
Halt the U.S. Drive to War with North Korea!
U.S. television news programs (CNN, MSNBC, and Fox) have been pounding the war drums in the last few weeks and days, since North Korea successfully launched a long- range missile. The long drift to war with North Korea has seemingly become, overnight, a U.S. drive to war with North Korea.
With his usual bluster and saber-rattling, President Trump on his recent tour of Europe continued to threaten “severe action” against North Korea. Trump has made matters worse by devolving authority to battlefield commanders who inflame tensions with their own incendiary statements. Example: the U.S. commander in Korea, General Vincent Brooks, stated publicly “the only thing which separates armistice from war” with North Korea is “our self-restraint, which is a choice.”
Anyone is the U.S. could conclude, quite reasonably, that the U.S. is the aggrieved and threatened party; that North Korea obviously wishes to harm the U.S. people; that the U.S. confronts a new danger; that North Korea is the aggressor; that an innocent and remarkably patient U.S. is the intended victim.
Such a conclusion — all of it — would be false. Almost nothing of what the U.S. mainstream media says about North Korea is true. Only a grasp of the history and the broader context can shed light on this Korea Crisis.
A few key facts:
The U.S. is Provoking the Crisis
North Korea would not have a nuclear weapons program if it were not under increasing threat from the U.S., which has been trying to force regime change in the North since 1945 by war, subversion, diplomatic isolation, and economic strangulation.
A recent article noted that,
As University of Chicago history professor Bruce Cumings [a leading U.S. historian of the Korean War], writes, for North Korea the nuclear crisis
It is the U.S. that has been provoking the DPRK with its stationing of THAAD missile (“Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense”), a first-strike weapon, in South Korea over the last year. The U.S. is now testing the THAAD missiles. US-South Korea practice military maneuvers, which used to recur several times a year, are now almost incessant.
Moreover, the U.S. is further militarizing South Korea. Residents of the South Korean island of Jeju have strongly object to the South Korean military setting up a base on the island, with the possible deployment of the U.S. Navy’s newest Zumwalt-class destroyer “to deter North Korean aggression.” At the end of World War II, after the Japanese Imperialists had been defeated, Jeju Islanders rose up against the US-installed colonial dictatorship of Syngman Rhee. The U.S. responded by employing the former brutal Japanese military rulers to violently put down the protests.
It is the U.S. that, again and again, has refused talks with North Korea’s leadership.
In January , North Korea offered to “sit with the U.S. anytime” to discuss U.S. war games and its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Pyongyang proposed that the United States “contribute to easing tension on the Korean peninsula by temporarily suspending joint military exercises in south Korea and its vicinity this year, and said that in this case the DPRK is ready to take such responsive steps as temporarily suspending the nuclear test over which the U.S. is concerned.”
The North Korean proposal was seconded by China and Russia and recently by South Korea’s new president Moon Jae-in. But Washington peremptorily rejected the proposal, refusing to acknowledge any equivalency between US-led war games, which U.S. officials deem ‘legitimate’ and North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, which they label ‘illegitimate.” (Stephen Gowans, ibid.)
Having partitioned Korea in 1945, the U.S. permanently stationed about 40,000 of troops in South Korea after the end of 1950-1953 hostilities and the 1953 armistice. The U.S. still denies Korea a peace treaty, which the DPRK has insisted on. But peace was never the intention of U.S. imperialism. U.S. foreign policy sees Northeast Asia only through the lens of domination.
The permanent occupation of South Korea was aimed at geopolitical control of the region, including elimination of the DPRK and moving U.S. missile and military forces right up to the Chinese and Russian borders. The occupation was symbolized by the giant, yearly provocative military maneuvers by the U.S. and its regional allies, such as South Korea. Such rehearsals for real war with the DPRK have stepped up dramatically in recent months.
Few Americans grasp the enormity of the trauma suffered by millions of Koreans in the war of 1950-53. The war devastated dozens of Korean cities. The U.S. dropped over 428,000 bombs over the capital Pyongyang alone, and killed 1.2 million people. The U.S. war on Korea included the use of napalm. The U.S. war’s brutal and blatant violations of international humanitarian law remain unpunished.
The real nature of U.S. policy to the Korean peninsula is neo-colonial domination, through occupation and partition. This has been so since 1945. The U.S. has stooped to employ the same quislings that had run Korea as a Japanese colony. Prof. Cumings wrote in the London Review of Books:
To shore up their  occupation, the Americans employed every last hireling of the Japanese they could find, including former officers in the Japanese military like Park Chung Hee and Kim Chae-gyu, both of whom graduated from the American military academy in Seoul in 1946. (After a military takeover in 1961 Park became president of South Korea, lasting a decade and a half until his ex-classmate Kim, by then head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, shot him dead over dinner one night.)
After the Americans left in 1948 the border area around the 38th parallel was under the command of Kim Sok-won, another ex-officer of the Imperial Army, and it was no surprise that after a series of South Korean incursions into the North, full-scale civil war broke out on 25 June 1950. Inside the South itself – whose leaders felt insecure and conscious of the threat from what they called ‘the north wind’ – there was an orgy of state violence against anyone who might somehow be associated with the left or with communism.
The historian Hun Joon Kim found that at least 300,000 people were detained and executed or simply disappeared by the South Korean government in the first few months after conventional war began. My own work and that of John Merrill indicates that somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 people died as a result of political violence before June 1950, at the hands either of the South Korean government or the U.S. occupation forces. In her recent book Korea’s Grievous War, which combines archival research, records of mass graves and interviews with relatives of the dead and escapees who fled to Osaka, Su-kyoung Hwang documents the mass killings in villages around the southern coast. In short, the Republic of Korea was one of the bloodiest dictatorships of the early Cold War period; many of the perpetrators of the massacres had served the Japanese in their dirty work – and were then put back into power by the Americans.
The most important new factor is the destabilizing THAAD missiles. According to the U.S. peace organization, Global Network, an authority on questions of war technology, the U.S. has recently deployed the THAAD “missile defense” system in Seongju, South Korea despite massive protests by South Koreans. It is claimed by U.S. authorities that THAAD is there to intercept missiles from North Korea. But many experts believe China and Russia are the real targets, given the enormous range of THAAD radar, which counterproductively intensifies unnecessary military tension in the region. The U.S. has also deployed other “missile defense” systems through the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the Middle East to encircle Russia and China. “Missile defense” is a key element in Pentagon first-strike attack planning.
De-escalate Tensions Now!
The U.S. Peace Council joins with other U.S. antiwar organizations in demanding that
Korea — all of it — has a right to its sovereignty and independence. The recently elected South Korean leader, Moon Jae-in, represents a break with the repressive and reactionary leaders of the past. He campaigned on a number of progressive ideas — more independence from the US; more engagement with the North. But he has had to contend with bullying by a U.S. Administration bent on heightening tensions. The U.S. has no right to enforce the partition of the Korean peninsula and to block steps to unity and social progress desired by the people of Korea, North and South.
 Stephen Gowans in “The Real Reason Washington is Worried about North Korea’s ICBM Test” (What’s Left, July 5, 2017 https://gowans.wordpress.