“I don’t want to be alarmist, but we’re all going to die,” talk-show host Stephen Colbert — who has boosted his ratings by curse-laden denunciations of Trump — told his audience Aug. 8.
But the U.S. capitalist rulers are doing the opposite — they’re working to achieve their class interests in the region without military action on the Korean Peninsula. President Trump’s threats of unleashing “fire and fury” are meant to convey the message that the U.S. rulers are serious in demanding the Kim Jong-Un government in the North agree to back off development of its long-range missile and nuclear weapons program.
It’s Washington’s imperialist aggression that’s responsible for the more than 70-year division of Korea. When Korean workers and farmers rose up in their millions to take advantage of Tokyo’s defeat in World War II to advance their fight for independence, Washington intervened, leading to a murderous war that ended in a stalemate. It has maintained tens of thousands of troops in South Korea since and imposed the division of the Korean people.
The Trump administration is moving to step up the pressure on Pyongyang. Convinced the previous three U.S. administrations didn’t act with enough resolve, it is seeking a way to collaborate effectively with Beijing and to tighten the screws to gain results.
“The object of our peaceful pressure campaign is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wrote in the Wall Street Journal Aug. 13. “The U.S. has no interest in regime change or accelerated reunification of Korea.”
“If China wishes to play a more active role in securing regional peace and stability,” the two administration officials say, “it must take the decision to exercise its diplomatic and economic leverage over North Korea.”
Spokespeople for both the left and right of bourgeois politics have no other course.
“The Obama administration’s response” to Pyongyang’s advances in nuclear and missile development “was to do — well, not much of anything, under the euphemism of ‘strategic patience,’” the liberal Washington Post editorialized Aug. 11. Their prescription? “Assemble a coalition of nations to impose economic sanctions sufficiently punitive and targeted at the regime that Mr. Kim decides he would be better off making a deal.”
In an Aug. 12 op-ed column in the Wall Street Journal, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger argues for the same. “For more than 30 years, the world’s response to North Korea’s nuclear program has combined condemnation with procrastination,” he writes.
“An understanding between Washington and Beijing is the essential prerequisite for the denuclearization of Korea,” he says. Such an alliance, with the backing of Tokyo and Seoul would apply “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang while also offering it “workable guarantees” that their government would not be overthrown, he says.
Stiff sanctions on North Korea
All these pundits hail the Trump administration’s success in hammering together a unanimous vote — including Beijing and Moscow — in the United Nations Security Council Aug. 5 imposing the stiffest sanctions yet on North Korea. The sanctions — the eighth over the past decade — ban the import of coal, iron, lead and seafood from the DPRK and prohibit any increase in the number of workers it sends abroad. The move, like previous restrictions, hits working people the hardest. Estimates are the sanctions will reduce the country’s exports by one-third.
Kim responded to President Trump’s comments with threats to launch ballistic missiles at the American territory of Guam, some 2,100 miles away. Guam, seized from Spain by Washington in 1898, is home of one of Washington’s sizable and growing military bases in the Pacific, keys to the U.S. rulers’ efforts to defend their access to trade routes and markets in Asia.
With a population of 162,000, residents of the U.S. colony have been involved in their own fight against U.S. military occupation. Dubbed Guamanians by the U.S. Navy after World War II, the native Chamorro people were not given full citizenship rights until 1950. They are allowed to vote for the U.S. president, but it isn’t counted, since they are barred from sending delegates to the Electoral College.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for military talks with Pyongyang, the first in three years. Seoul, a city of 10 million people is just 35 miles south of the border. The highly fortified Democratic People’s Republic of Korea army has 10,000 artillery pieces capable of rapidly hitting that city and U.S. troop bases further south.
Giving added weight to Washington’s threats if Pyongyang refuses to discuss denuclearization, Beijing said that if the DPRK launches missiles near a U.S. territory and the U.S. retaliates, “China will stay neutral,” according to the Global Times newspaper. But, it added, if the U.S. strikes first and tries to overthrow the North Korean regime, “China will prevent them from doing so.”
“Beyond the bluster, the Trump administration has been quietly engaged in back channel diplomacy with North Korea for several months,” reported The Associated Press Aug. 11.
The DPRK has about 10 nuclear warheads, according to the Arms Control Association. In a program begun under the Obama administration in 2010, Washington is upgrading its nuclear arsenal to the tune of $1 trillion.
Decades of U.S. aggression
Following World War II Washington, landed troops to prevent the Korean workers and farmers from taking power and, with agreement of the Stalinist regime in Moscow, dividing the country in two.
In May 1948 Washington imposed the Syngman Rhee dictatorship, which together with the U.S. occupation army crushed the rebellion in the south. North of Korea’s 38th parallel, workers and peasants were able to take power and organized a sweeping agrarian reform, expropriated landlords and capitalists and carried out other measures. In September 1948, the DPRK was established in Pyongyang.
War broke out on June 25, 1950, as the U.S. rulers backed the Rhee regime’s effort to reimpose the dictatorship of capital in the North. Over the next three years some 2 million U.S. soldiers and more than 160,000 troops from 15 other countries under the banner of the U.N. fought in Korea. When U.S. forces reached the Chinese border, Beijing sent 260,000 troops to aid Korean fighters in driving the invasion back.
More than 4 million people were killed in the U.S.-organized war, including at least 2 million civilians. U.S. bombers leveled Pyongyang and scores of other cities, towns and villages. The Truman administration threatened to use nuclear weapons.
The war ended with an armistice — the first time U.S. imperialism failed to win a war. Ever since, Washington has maintained an official state of war on the peninsula, refusing to sign a peace treaty with the DPRK.
The U.S. military maintains 28,500 troops in South Korea and conducts provocative joint military exercises with Seoul deploying tens of thousand of troops at least twice a year.
The latest, Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, is planned for Aug. 21-31. Like the last exercise, this one is scheduled to include practice “decapitations” raids, simulating incursions into the North to assassinate Kim Jong-un and other government leaders.
SWP: ‘Take nuclear weapons out of hands of US rulers!’
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