Having to fight two wars at same time
Why are the Bush administration and most of the corporate media so worried about the DPRK?
By Deirdre Griswold
If the Bush administration and the Pentagon are planning to be able to fight two wars at the same time, shouldn't the anti-war movement be preparing to oppose two wars at the same time?
This is not an academic question. At this moment, the U.S. government says it is ready to hold talks with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. But at the same time, it is sending planes and warships to the area to supplement the force of 37,000 troops it has stationed in South Korea for over 50 years, aimed at the north.
The North Koreans take this threat very seriously. They have good reason to. The DPRK is not a large country--with 25 million people, it has only slightly more than half the population of the south. But it lost an estimated 3 million people during the 1950-53 Korean War. U.S. planes bombed every building over one story. The Pentagon sent 1.3 million troops to Korea; over 50,000 were killed in that bitter war. But among Koreans, virtually every family lost loved ones in the war.
Whatever discussions are held between the DPRK and the U.S., the threat of another war is very real. Indeed, there are many voices in the corporate media arguing that Korea is a bigger "threat" to the United States than Iraq, because there's no evidence that Iraq has a nuclear program any more, while the DPRK has said openly that it is resuming work on a nuclear reactor it had shut down in 1994 in a negotiated arrangement with the Clinton administration.
However, that "Agreed Frame work" deal was torpedoed by President George W. Bush last year when he included North Korea in his infamous "Axis of Evil" speech. This characterization of the DPRK was tantamount to a declaration of war, and the Koreans let Washington know very plainly that they considered it as such.
Why are the Bush administration and most of the corporate media so worried about the DPRK? Is it because it is building a nuclear power plant that one day could produce fissionable material that might be used for a couple of bombs? But this is no real threat to the United States. The U.S. has built 70,000 nuclear warheads since 1945, and still deploys about 7,000 of them. It encircles Korea with sophisticated ships, planes and submarines.
Or are the imperialist strategists really worried about the growing sentiment in South Korea against U.S. military occupation?
For the last several years, the two halves of Korea have been discussing how to reduce tensions on the peninsula and initiate joint cultural and economic projects. This comes after the rise of a strong and militant movement in the south for reunification and the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
If the U.S. were to leave Korea alone, there is no doubt that relations between the north and south would improve. This is what was happening--until Bush intervened with his threats against the north. Even now, many plans are being implemented for joint north-south projects--like a railway that would link South Korea to China and Russia by way of the north.
The Bush administration is doing all it can to prevent the two halves of Korea from cooperating. After all, what excuse would there be for the continued U.S. occupation of South Korea if the process of normalization were to proceed?
At the same time, the demonization of the leadership in North Korea reaches new lows every day. Never mind that the DPRK continues to seek a dialogue with the U.S. government on securing peace on the Korean peninsula, or that it has successfully reached out to the south. Its leaders are still branded as "xenophobic" and the country a "hermit nation."
Bush accuses the Korean leaders of "starving their own people," but it has been U.S. pressure that prevented the DPRK from getting the energy needed for its economy. No one believes the "compassionate conservatives" any more when they express concern for the children of Iraq, who have died by the hundreds of thousands from U.S. sanctions. Why should they believe the same lies about Korea, especially when they are being used to rally the population here behind new war moves?
The U.S. has never agreed to negotiate a peace treaty to officially end the Korean War. That is another way of telling the Koreans that it could attack them at any time. In response, North Korea has built a strong defense establishment. It produces missiles and has sold them to other countries.
The military-industrial complex here is horrified at this. It tries to force countries around the world to buy U.S. military equipment. For years, Washington has made South Korea buy U.S. fighter planes and other big-ticket items at a cost of billions of dollars, even when they could get them cheaper from other suppliers.
U.S. arrogance on this question is so great that in December the U.S. got the Spanish Navy to actually board a ship in the Arabian Sea believed to be carrying Korean missiles destined for Yemen. Imagine if some country decided it should board ships carrying U.S. weapons around the world. That would be a 24/7 job.
Korea has a long history of resisting colonialism and foreign domination. In the first half of the last century, its struggle was against Japanese imperialism, which carried out ferocious repression of the Korean people in its attempts to annex the peninsula.
The anti-war movement here needs to become familiar with Korean history in order to understand why today the Korean people's struggle for self-determination is directed against domination by the world's lone superpower, the United States.
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