Revolutionary Worker #1184, January 26, 2003, posted at http://rwor.org
For a week controversy has raged in the mainstream media, grabbing headlines and magazine covers: "Who is the bigger threat--North Korea or Iraq?"
This phony debate reveals levels of absurdity and dishonesty in U.S. war preparations that demand to be unraveled.
U.S. Global Military Offensive
After conquering Afghanistan, the U.S. has moved on to "Phase 2." The next target is Iraq, a country with no known connection to September 11.
U.S. and British soldiers, bombers and ships are flooding into the Persian Gulf. Desperate for any excuse, the White House says the 11 old and empty Iraqi short-range warheads recently discovered by UN inspectors are "a smoking gun"--i.e., part of the supposed "proof" they need to justify the conquest of Iraq.
Before the U.S. military even launches this unprovoked aggression on Iraq, there comes a "debate" in the U.S. political arena about "who should be next?" And the next candidate is North Korea, another tiny, impoverished third world country with a defiant government that also had no connection with September 11.
General Richard B. Myers chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has approved a 20- to 30-year plan for waging continuing warfare across the planet. This still-secret document, the National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism , shifts U.S. military strategy "toward pre-emptive action"--aimed at different states and armed groups across the world. It makes good on the promise of Vice President Dick Cheney to launch a global military offensive that might last a generation.
People are waking up to discover that the U.S. military has moved in all over the world. Huge parts of Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait have been taken over by the U.S. military. The U.S. Navy has set up a major base in the African country of Djibouti to threaten the Red Sea, Yemen, Somalia, and the Sudan. New U.S. bases have sprung up across central Asia and the Caucasus. Turkey is pressured to allow in U.S. ground troops as well as war planes. A decade after leaving the Philippines, U.S. forces are now involved in active combat against anti-government forces. And there is alarming news that U.S. army personnel are carrying out joint military exercises in Nepal, where the brutal Royal government is fighting against a Maoist people's war.
So, it is a good question to ask: "Who is the biggest threat to the people of the world ?"
Time magazine's online European edition asked its readers who they thought was the biggest threat--giving them three choices: Iraq, North Korea, and the United States. By January 16, with over 200,000 responding to this informal vote, over 81.8 percent had said, "The United States."
The Case of North Korea
The cartoon-like picture people get from the mainstream U.S. press goes something like this: "North Korea has, inexplicably, chosen to defy the U.S. and threaten the world. The North Korean government, which has starved its own people to maintain its military strength, has now injected nuclear tension into the Far East and the Korean peninsula by announcing that it has nuclear weapons--and then heightened tensions by tearing up treaties, kicking out inspectors and stepping up its nuclear weapons production. This has presented the U.S. with a dilemma about which part of Bush's Axis of Evil to attack first."
Key facts are missing from this official story:
First, for over 50 years it has been the U.S.that has made nuclear threats in the Far East, specifically threatening North Korea (which is formally known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea--DPRK).
The U.S. exploded two nuclear weapons in Japan in 1945--to threaten anyone who might challenge the future U.S. control of the entire Far East. After World War 2, northern Korea was liberated from the Japanese, foreign troops left, and an independent government was established.
But the U.S. refused to leave southern Korea or to allow the Korean people to have a united country. A war was fought to expel the U.S. occupiers. The U.S. (flying the UN flag) advanced to the borders of China, threatening the Maoist revolution that had won there in 1949. There was open talk in McCarthy-era America of using nukes against revolutionary China.
Together Korean and Chinese fighters pushed the U.S./UN invaders back to the 38th parallel. In the following decades, the U.S. set up a series of fascistic pro-U.S. regimes that brutalized the people of southern Korea (which is officially known as Republic of Korea--ROK).
The U.S. packed southern Korea with troops. By the 1980s, the ROK was the most nuclear-wired place on the planet. U.S. forces threatened the north with strategic nuclear weapons (long-range missiles) plus an array of tactical nuclear weapons (including nuclear artillery and land mines). The U.S. claims it withdrew those tactical nukes in the 1990s--but that is not verified.
North Korea is alleged to have at most one or two primitive and untested nuclear "devices" (and there is no actual evidence of that). North Korea has the ability to send its missiles only a few hundred miles past its borders.
In short: It is the U.S. that introduced nuclear warfare into the Far East and makes nuclear threat the currency in Korea--just as it was the U.S. (and its ally Israel) who introduced nuclear threats into the Middle East.
Who Rejected Negotiations and Tore Up Treaties?
The U.S. tried to make the North Korean government collapse under the weight of permanent war tension along with economic pressures.
Apart from the 50-year-old military stand-off at the 38th parallel, North Korea has threatened no one. But the intense U.S. policy of threat and economic isolation was intended to weaken North Korea. North Korea--a country of 22 million people--developed armed forces estimated to be about 1 million strong in order to face threats from the largest superpower in history. The DPRK developed into an impoverished revisionist country. (Revisionist means "phony communist"--where the government claims to be socialist but is in fact oppressive and state capitalist.)
The U.S. still refuses to negotiate a treaty ending the Korean war (after 50 years of hostility!). It is widely reported in the world press that a key goal of North Korea remains to simply have the U.S. sign a peace treaty.
Meanwhile, it is the U.S. that has been tearing up treaties--including the specific treaty dealing with North Korea's nuclear program.
In 1994, the U.S. government, headed by Bill Clinton, threatened a military attack on North Korean nuclear power plants and military facilities. In response North Korea, in a treaty called "the Agreed Framework," agreed to put its nuclear program on hold--including giving up nuclear power plants that could produce weapons material, even though its economy desperately needed more electrical power. (Despite North Korea's public claim of Juche --the nationalist credo of self-reliance--the DPRK was highly dependent on the Soviet bloc during the '70s and '80s and fell into crisis after trade and subsidies stopped following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.)
In exchange for a shutdown of nuclear plants, the U.S. government agreed to provide North Korea with fuel oil and nuclear reactors that do not produce weapon materials and to move toward normalized relations.
The U.S. government did not honor this agreement. The desperately needed power plants were never built. In response, the North Korean government sent a little reminder in 1999--testing an unarmed rocket by shooting it into the Pacific Ocean.
When Bush came to power, the U.S. government stopped any negotiations with North Korea and named the DPRK part of the so-called "Axis of Evil." In crude racist language, Bush personally called DPRK leader Kim Jung Il a "pygmy."
So while the U.S. complains about North Korea supposedly "tearing up treaties" it is in fact the U.S.that has been doing this. Not only did they tear up the bilateral agreement with North Korea but they have also torn up major multi -lateral treaties, including the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty and the Kyoto Protocols on greenhouse gasses.
The U.S. military is now installing 20 new interceptor missiles in Alaska, including on one base only a few hundred miles from North Korea. These missiles (if they work) will enable the U.S. to threaten a nuclear first strike against both North Korea and China.
Given this situation, is it any wonder that the DPRK restarted their existing nuclear power plants? They asked the UN inspectors to leave--since the U.S. had torn up the treaty those inspectors were enforcing. The North Korean government also withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty--a move which is legally allowed by that treaty itself.
In short, the U.S. imposed an unequal treaty, the "Agreed Framework," on North Korea-- using open military threat--and then tore up that treaty. Now the U.S. acts like it is the DPRK that is warlike and irrational.
A Glimpse of the Real World
"These days average South Koreans speak openly of their solidarity with the North, while youngsters tear apart American flags on the streets of Seoul. A recent Gallup poll finds that 53 percent of South Koreans view the United States unfavorably."
The New Republic , Jan. 14, 2003
A 26-year-old South Korean student recently told the New York Times: "A country that is threatened with nuclear weapons has the right to have nuclear weapons."
In the nakedly imperialist political climate in today's U.S., such sentiments are treated as shocking and bizarre. Official America doesn't believe that other countries have any sovereign right to resist U.S. demands. The U.S. government calls itself "the good guys." It pretends to be "protecting" the people of South Korea. It portrays its opponents as "evildoers and rogue states, led by madmen with weapons of mass destruction."
Some questions: If the U.S. military is defending democracy against "terrorists" and "tyrants"--then why are U.S. moves so unpopular around the world? Why do the massive demonstrations in South Korea target the U.S., not the North?
U.S. imperialists have occupied southern Korea for 50 years and prevented reunification of the country. They have imposed a world of capitalist sweatshops and harsh repressive governments. U.S. occupation troops have raped Korean women, seized Korean land, turned the country into a permanent war zone, and generally run amok. They are hated.
So back to our starting question: Who is the real "rogue state"?
Billions of people see the self-appointed cop of the world acting like the emperor of the world.
Even many reactionary governments and ambitious powers see their interests threatened by the U.S. In late December the White House proposed "a comprehensive plan to intensify financial and political pressure on North Korea." The idea fell apart because North Korea's neighbors--China, South Korea, and Russia--refused to join a U.S. embargo.
Final questions: Can this ruthless, reckless superpower really succeed in swallowing the huge, beautiful, diverse, complex planet we live on? Will humanity really be bombed and steamrollered into a nightmarish McWorld run by U.S. corporations and commandos? Doesn't this situation demand fierce and fearless resistance?
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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