Jun. 18  2024
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쁍orth Korea, South Korea: Is it the US셲 Korea?

Feffer succeeds admirably in writing a book which clearly outlines the issues surrounding reunification of the Korean peninsula. He takes to task the Bush Administration셲 regime change first method rather than diplomacy as the dangerous and senseless policy it is.

Source  :  BASE21

By Linda Wasson

One does not have to take a formal poll to know most S. Koreans want to reunite with N. Korea. Neither does one have to understand the intricacies of diplomacy and foreign policy to realize reunification is not only possible but entirely feasible. Unlike the Middle East where suicide bombings occur on almost a daily basis, the differences between the 2 Koreas is not being jeopardized by constant terrorism and violence. On the contrary, much like East and West Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, families are desperately wanting to reunite, economies could benefit greatly from cooperation and the entire Asian realm could strengthen its position in world affairs if reunification occurred.

What then, is the obstacle of reunification if it is both desired and possible? In his book, North Korea, South Korea, US Policy at a Time of Crisis, John Feffer eloquently discusses the role the United States plays in S. Korean affairs. Feffer intricately details how a divisive peninsula serves the U.S.’s interest as it continues to build itself as both the dominant economic and military force in Asia.

North Korea, South Korea begins with an interesting history of various invasions of Korea including by the U.S. in 1866, continuing through the Korean War. In discussing US policy points of various presidential administrations, Feffer skillfully illustrates how the US has never fully encouraged reunification of the peninsula. Rather it works to wedge apart the Koreas while strengthening its own presence in the region.

Feffer details how the Bush administration has consistently discouraged diplomatic solutions to obstacles surrounding reunification while focusing on provoking N. Korea. By actively campaigning against the 1994 Agreed Framework and deterring S. Korea’s engagement policy, the U.S. has instead chosen to plan military scenarios which once more include the use of nuclear weapons in the Asian region. These military options have been outlined in preparation for a pre-emptive attack on N. Korea. Unfortunately, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, facilitated the goal of regime change in Pyongyang as the Bush administration moved steadily “away from traditional containment, a preference for unilateralism over multilateralism and a scorning of diplomacy in favor of preventive war.”

While spending over $40 billion a year in the Asia-Pacific region, the US has in fact spent $3 billion year on building the S. Korean military. Feffer states “S. Korea is one of the closest American allies, the only one where the US maintains operational control over the military.” Yet the U.S. has not hesitated to use arm-twisting tactics to direct S. Korea’s politicians in keeping with American policy. While S. Korean President Roh has stated he opposes even the review of a military strike against N. Korea, the Bush administration has continued to lobby S. Korea to change its tone. To wit, in 2003 when President Roh hardened his stance against N. Korea, U.S. forces in S. Korea were upgraded to the tune of $11 billion dollars.

The U.S. repeatedly changes tactics when negotiating with N. Korea, refusing to honor past promises, pulling back from the table when Kim Il Sung agrees to U.S. terms and has most unhonorably created a reputation as not to be trusted. Kim Il Sung clearly believes his nuclear capabilities have prevented N. Korea from being invaded. It is no wonder he still clings to this last thread as a deterrent from US invasion. The US repeatedly states regime change is its goal, callously ignoring the S. Korean people and how they fit into the scheme of their own country’s future.

That is clearly the bottom line. The U.S. is pursuing its own goals within the confines of another country. This comes at the expense not just of the US taxpayer who once again is either woefully ignorant of its own government’s quests for domination, or worse, turns a blind eye to the suffering imposed upon other countries due to the U.S.’s quest for power. The potential for tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of casualties resulting from a nuclear war the US considers “winnable” are stated as acceptable simply because it would be primarily at the expense of the Korean people. This is in absolute disregard of the rights of the S. Korean people despite how they have struggled mightily to establish their own democracy and place in the world. S. Korea, a country who has emerged from war, dictatorship and immense poverty over the last several decades to establish itself as a competitive force in technology, certainly has every right to decide its own fate as to reunification efforts.

Japan, whose history is more tenuous, has also come to the reunification table under the Chosen Soren, a N. Korean community living in Japan. An underground rail link from Korea to Japan has also been discussed among the countries. China, whose astronomical growth has given it a global voice in world affairs, also desires reunification for market expansion. Russia and Europe seek to establish rail links with Asia and the Far East, all which would be possible if reunification were to occur.

How then, can the US continue to erode away at such obviously positive efforts by so many powerful global leaders? Feffer explains the wedge the U.S. is hammering between the 2 Koreas and how by keeping the peninsula divided, it is able to maintain its own economic interest in the region, sitting like a cat on a mouse hole, waiting for the mouse to appear. Only in this case, it is the megacorporations waiting for commercial entities to go belly up or just need bailing out, opening businesses to foreign capital and investment, notably from the US.

Feffer succeeds admirably in writing a book which clearly outlines the issues surrounding reunification of the Korean peninsula. He takes to task the Bush Administration’s regime change first method rather than diplomacy as the dangerous and senseless policy it is. Breaking through the complicated rhetoric of politicians, Feffer presents an authoritative analysis of realistic, non-military goals which could conceivably lead to reunification of North and South Korea.

Linda Wasson is an English Teacher currently living in S. Korea. Back in the U.S. she is a member of the independent media, a science radio journalist for WORT-FM, Madison, Wisconsin and a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

North Korea South Korea, U.S. Policy at a Time of Crisis
By John Feffer
197 pages with notes
Seven Stories Press, New York
2004 / -0 / 7-
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