US Must Talk, Not Threaten North Korea

Posted by admin on April 25, 2013 under Antiwar, China, Korea, Militarism | Be the First to Comment

Statement from the CCDS Peace and Solidarity Committee

Sixty years after an armistice ended the fighting in the Korean War, the situation remains tense, abnormal and dangerous on the Korean peninsula.  Any military conflict in Korea carries the risk of broadening into a catastrophic war as the US, China, Japan and Russia all have strategic interests in the area.  Another major Korean war would mean large increases in US military spending and more austerity and repression at home, as well as great destruction and loss of life.  The crisis of March-April 2013 did not lead to a military confrontation; however, since the basic issues have not been addressed, another crisis is at some point likely.

The first source of tension is the US refusal to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea legally ending the Korean War.  Sometimes characterized as inscrutable, North Korea’s prime diplomatic objectives are actually simple and clear: sign a peace treaty with the US, get the sanctions lifted and join the international community as a respected and equal nation.  It is US policy that is blocking normalization.

After World War Two, a reunited Korea would surely have chosen the popular Kim Il Sung as president since Kim had been the national leader of the Korean resistance  to the Japanese occupation.  Kim Il Sung, however, was also leader of the Korean Communist Party and thus unacceptable to the US, which blocked reunification.  In the 1990s, North Korea participated in discussions to suspend its nuclear program in return for economic aid and movement towards recognition.  In 2001, however, the Bush administration labelled Pyongyang as one of the "axis of evil" and showed in Iraq what that meant.  North Korea then restarted its nuclear program and moved to further development of a nuclear weapon and long range missiles.  The simulated nuclear bombing runs of US B-52s and stealth bombers practicing over South Korea only justifies in North Korean eyes their need for nuclear weapons and a powerful military.

As the world’s military superpower, far more powerful than North Korea, the US should take the initiative to reduce militarization and tensions rather than conducting provocative military exercises with South Korean forces.  However, partly as a result of the Obama administration’s "pivot" to Asia/Pacific, the US has been strengthening its military presence in East Asia, including working with Japan to strengthen anti-missile defense systems.  This has encouraged rightist Japanese prime minister Abe to suggest altering the Japanese pacifist constitution to allow for a stronger Japanese military presence, further inflaming tensions.

China has proposed restarting the six-party talks to energize the diplomatic process.  The Chinese are North Korea’s long standing ally; China wants a denuclearized Korean peninsula and calls for reduction of US/South Korea joint military exercises and  an end to provocative language.  This would create a better environment for talks and reconciliation and benefit the Korean people as well as peace.  China also wants closer consultation with North Korea.

CCDS urges that people contact the president and Congress to demand the US agree to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea and stop its campaign of pressure and regime change.  Talks among equal partners are the only way to improve the situation in Korea.  Activists should call for cutting the military budget by the US withdrawing troops and pulling back from its growing forward position in the Asia/Pacific region.

April 25, 2013