Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Behind the U.S.-North Korea Conflict

Expand Messages
  • Romi Elnagar
    BEHIND THE U.S.-NORTH KOREA CONFLICT By Jack A. Smith, editor of Activist Newsletter What’s happening between the U.S. and North Korea to produce such
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2013
    • 0 Attachment
      By Jack A. Smith,
      editor of Activist Newsletter

      What’s happening between the U.S. and North Korea to produce
      such headlines this week as “Korean Tensions Escalate,” and  “North Korea Threatens U.S.”?
      The New York Times reported March 30: “This week, North
      Korea’s young leader, Kim Jung-un, ordered his underlings to prepare for a
      missile attack on the United States. He appeared at a command center in front
      of a wall map with the bold, unlikely title, ‘Plans to Attack the Mainland
      U.S.’ Earlier in the month, his generals boasted of developing a ‘Korean-style’
      nuclear warhead that could be fitted atop a long-range missile.”

      The U.S. is well aware North Korea’s statements are not
      backed up by sufficient military power to implement its rhetorical threats, but
      appears to be escalating tensions all the same. What’s up? I’ll have to go back
      a bit to explain the situation.

      Since the end of the Korean War 60 years ago, the Worker’s
      Party government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North
      Korea) has repeatedly put forward virtually the same four proposals to the
      United States. They are:

      1. A peace treaty to end the Korean War. 2. The
      reunification of Korea, which has been “temporarily” divided into North and
      South since 1945. 3. An end to the U.S. occupation of South Korea and a
      discontinuation of annual month-long U.S-South Korean war games. 4. Bilateral
      talks between Washington and Pyongyang to end tensions on the Korean peninsula.

      The U.S. and its South Korean protectorate have rejected
      each proposal over the years. As a consequence, the peninsula has
      remained extremely unstable since the 1950s. It has now reached the
      point where Washington
      has used this year’s war games, which began in early March, as a vehicle for
      staging a mock nuclear attack on North Korea by flying two
      nuclear-capable B-2
      Stealth bombers over the region March 28. Three days later, the White
      ordered F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets to South Korea, a further
      of tensions.

      Here is what is behind the four proposals.

      1. The U.S. refuses to sign a peace treaty to end the Korean
      War. It has only agreed to an armistice. An armistice is a temporary
      of fighting by mutual consent. The armistice signed July 27, 1953, was
      to transform into a peace treaty when “a final peaceful settlement is
      The lack of a treaty means war could resume at any moment.  North Korea
      does not want a war with the U.S., history's most powerful military
      state. It wants a peace treaty.

      2. Two Koreas exist as the product of an agreement between
      the USSR (which borderd Korea and helped to liberate the northern part of
      country from Japan in World War II) and the U.S., which occupied the southern
      half.  Although socialism prevailed in
      the north and capitalism in the south, it was not to be a permanent split. The
      two big powers were to withdraw after a couple of years, allowing the country
      to reunify. Russia did so; the U.S. didn’t. Then came the devastating
      three-year war in 1950. Since then, North Korea has made several different
      proposals to end the separation that has lasted since 1945. The most recent
      proposal, I believe, is “one country two systems.” This means that while both
      halves unify, the south remains capitalist and the north remains socialist. It
      will be difficult but not impossible. Washington does not want this. It seeks
      the whole peninsula, bringing its military apparatus directly to the border
      with China, and Russia as well.

      3. Washington has kept between 25,000 and over 40,000 troops
      in South Korea since the end of the war. They remain — along with America’s
      fleets, nuclear bomber bases and troop installations in close proximity to the
      peninsula — a reminder of two things. One is that “We can crush the north.” The
      other is “We own South Korea.” Pyongyang sees it that way — all the more so since
      President Obama decided to “pivot” to Asia. While the pivot contains an
      economic and trade aspect, its primary purpose is to increase America’s already
      substantial military power in the region in order to intensify the threat to
      China and North Korea.

      4. The Korean War was basically a conflict between the DPRK
      and the U.S. That is, while a number of UN countries fought in the war, the
      U.S. was in charge, dominated the fighting against North Korea and was
      responsible for the deaths of millions of Koreans north of the 38th parallel dividing line. It is entirely logical that Pyongyang seeks talks
      directly with Washington to resolve differences and reach a peaceful settlement
      leading toward a treaty. The U.S. has consistently refused.

      These four points are not new. They were put forward in the
      1950s. I visited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a journalist for
      the (U.S.) Guardian newspaper three times during the 1970s for a total of eight
      weeks. Time after time, in discussions with officials, I was asked about a
      peace treaty, reunification, withdrawal of U.S. troops from the south, and
      face-to-face talks. The situation is the same today. The U.S. won’t budge.

      Why not? Washington wants to get rid of the communist regime
      before allowing peace to prevail on the peninsula. No “one state, two systems”
      for Uncle Sam, by jingo! He wants one state that pledges allegiance to — guess

      In the interim, the existence of a “bellicose” North Korea
      justifies Washington’s surrounding the north with a veritable ring of firepower
      in the northwest Pacific close enough to almost, but not quite, singe China. A
      “dangerous” DPRK is also useful in keeping Japan well within the U.S. orbit. It
      also is another excuse for once-pacifist Japan to boost its already formidable

      this connection I’ll quote from a Feb. 15 article from Foreign Policy in Focus
      by Christine Hong and Hyun Le:“Framing of North Korea as the
      region's foremost security threat obscures the disingenuous nature of U.S.
      President Barack Obama's policy in the region, specifically the identity
      between what his advisers dub ‘strategic patience,’ on the one hand, and his
      forward-deployed military posture and alliance with regional hawks on the
      other. Examining Obama's aggressive North Korea policy and its consequences is
      crucial to understanding why demonstrations of military might — of politics by
      other means, to borrow from Carl von Clausewitz — are the only avenues of
      communication North Korea appears to have with the United States at this

      another quote from ANSWER Coalition leader Brian Becker:  “The Pentagon and the South
      Korean military today —and throughout the past year — have been staging massive
      war games that simulate the invasion and bombing of North Korea. Few people in
      the United States know the real situation. The work of the war propaganda
      machine is designed to make sure that the American people do not join together
      to demand an end to the dangerous and threatening actions of the Pentagon on
      the Korean Peninsula.

      “The propaganda campaign is in full swing now as the
      Pentagon climbs the escalation ladder in the most militarized part of the
      planet. North Korea is depicted as the provocateur and aggressor whenever it
      asserts that they have the right and capability to defend their country. Even
      as the Pentagon simulates the nuclear destruction of a country that it had
      already tried to bomb into the Stone Age, the corporate-owned media
      characterizes this extremely provocative act as a sign of resolve and a measure
      of self-defense.”

      And from Stratfor, the private intelligence service that is
      often in the know: “Much of North Korea's
      behavior can be considered rhetorical, but it is nonetheless unclear how far
      Pyongyang is willing to go if it still cannot force negotiations through belligerence.” The objective of initiating negotiations is
      here taken for granted.

      Pyongyang’s “bellicosity” is almost entirely verbal — several decibels too
      loud for our ears, perhaps — but North Korea is a small country in
      circumstances that well remembers the extraordinary brutality Washington
      visited up the territory in the 1950s. Millions of Koreans died. TheU.S. carpet bombings were criminal. North Korea is determined to go down
      if it happens again, but hope their preparedness will avoid war and lead to
      talks and a treatry.

      Their large and well-trained army is for defense. The
      purpose of the rockets they are building and their talk about nuclear weapons
      is principally to scare away the wolf at the door.

      In the short run, the recent inflammatory rhetoric from Kim
      Jong-un is in direct response to this year’s month-long U.S.-South Korea war
      games, which he interprets as a possible prelude for another war. Kim’s longer
      run purpose is to create a sufficiently worrisome crisis that the U.S. finally
      agrees to bilateral talks and possibly a peace treaty and removal of foreign
      troops. Some form of reunification could come later in talks between north and

      I suspect the present confrontations will simmer down after
      the war games end. The Obama Administration has no intention to create the
      conditions leading to a peace treaty — especially now that White House
      attention seems riveted on East Asia where it perceives an eventual risk to its
      global geopolitical supremacy.


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.