It’s time to end the Korean War March 13, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, North/South Korea, War.
Tags: history, korea, korea armistice, korea ceasefire, korea history, korea nuclear, korea peace treaty, korea sanctions, korea truce, korean war, north korea, roger hollander, south korea, thomas walkom
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Roger’s note: it is refreshing to see a columnist in a mainstream publication give a relatively balanced analysis of the situation on the Korean peninsula. Unfortunately, I don’t expect we are likely to see this kind of reporting in the North Korea demonizing US media.
Forget sanctions against Pyongyang. Until a real peace treaty is signed with North Korea, nothing will be solved.
Hulton Archive / GETTY IMAGES file photo
The ceasefire of 1953 called for all foreign troops to be withdrawn from the Korean peninsula. The Chinese withdrew, as did the Canadians, British and most other UN forces. But the Americans, at the behest of the South Korean government, stayed.
There is a way to defuse the standoff with North Korea. It will not be easy. But short of going to war again in the Korean peninsula, it is probably the only solution.
That solution is to negotiate and sign a real peace treaty with Pyongyang.
The great secret of the Korean War is that it has never ended. An armistice was signed in 1953 to halt the fighting and let belligerents begin talks on a final peace treaty.
But those talks never occurred.
This history — of what happened and what did not happen in 1953 — is crucial for an understanding of North Korea’s almost pathological approach to the world.
It also helps to explain why North Korea announced Monday that it is, in effect, tearing up the armistice.
The ceasefire of 1953 was not a deal between North and South Korea. South Korean president Syngman Rhee refused to sign on.
Rather it was an arrangement signed by commanders of the main military forces at war in the peninsula — the Americans on behalf of the United Nations Command (which included Canadian troops) and the North Koreans on behalf of their own soldiers and so-called Chinese volunteers.
The armistice set the demarcation line between territory controlled by the North Koreans and territory controlled by the UN Command.
That dividing line was supposed to be temporary. The armistice called for negotiations to begin within three months on a comprehensive political settlement for the peninsula.
And it called for all foreign troops — UN and Chinese — to be eventually withdrawn.
The Chinese did withdraw, as did the Canadians, British and most other UN forces. But the Americans, at the behest of the South Korean government they had set up, stayed. They are still there.
In violation of the armistice, the U.S. arbitrarily set the maritime boundary between the two Koreas. Between 1958 and 1991, the U.S. armed its forces in South Korea with nuclear weapons, another violation.
So when Pyongyang says, as it did this week, that the terms of that armistice have been breached by the UN side, it is not entirely inaccurate.
To assign blame for the standoff on the Korean peninsula is a mug’s game. Most historians agree that the Northern troops did invade the South in 1950. But they also agree that both North and South had been conducting raids into one another’s territory during the months before.
During the war, both sides committed unspeakable atrocities. Both lost hundreds of thousands of civilians although, thanks to UN bombing raids, the North lost markedly more.
The North has been a dictatorship since its inception. The South, while a military dictatorship for most of the post-war period, embraced democracy in 1987.
The UN side may have broken the armistice by keeping U.S. troops in the South. But the North broke the ceasefire in even more outrageous ways — from its assassination forays to its 2010 shelling of South Korean civilians.
The real question now is what to do next.
Washington’s insistence that the North give up its nuclear weapons is almost certainly a non-starter. The North’s leaders saw what happened when Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Moammar Ghadafi abandoned their nuclear programs. They are unlikely to make the same mistake.
Sanctions against the North haven’t worked. And even with China agreeing to enforce them, they are unlikely to work in the future. North Korea has proven itself both stubborn and resilient.
Only two choices are left: Reignite the war that never ended or make peace. War against a nuclear-armed North Korea is madness. Peace talks on the basis of the 1953 armistice would surely make more sense.
North Korea has long insisted it wants normal relations with the U.S. and others. Why not call Pyongyang’s bluff?
As a country that, in a roundabout way, was a party to the 1953 armistice, Canada is in a good position to make the case.
Thomas Walkom’s column appears Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
No New Korean War! November 29, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, Foreign Policy, North/South Korea, War.
Tags: answer coalition, dprk, Kim Myung-bak, korea, korea armistice, korea peace treaty, korean war, north korea, obama administration, roger hollander, south korea, uss george washington, war, war games
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Answer Coalition, November 26, 2010
The Obama administration and its South Korean client government led by the rabidly anti-communist President Kim Myung-bak are blaming the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) for the latest escalation of hostilities in the Korean Peninsula.
But in reality the crisis there is the result of a policy of deliberate provocation by the U.S. and South Korea over the past several months. These provocations are targeting both the DPRK and the People’s Republic of China, countries where the often-concealed but very real aim of U.S. leaders — Democrats and Republicans alike – is “regime change.” They could also lead to a new Korean war, one that could expand to wider regional, and potentially nuclear, conflict.
While hypocritically calling for “calm” in words, Washington is escalating the crisis by its actions. A U.S. naval group led by the nuclear “super-carrier” USS George Washington is on its way to carry out joint military maneuvers with South Korean warships in the Yellow Sea, menacing both China and the DPRK. By moving this huge aircraft carrier into the Yellow Sea the Pentagon and White House are sending a direct, threatening message of escalation since China considers these waters to be part of its sovereign territory.
On November 24, an unnamed “senior administration official” confirmed that the U.S. is escalating pressure on China: “China clearly does not like to see U.S aircraft carriers, for example, in the Yellow Sea.” (NY Times, Nov. 25, 2010)
What’s needed to resolve the crisis
The DPRK wants direct talks with the United States, a formal Peace Treaty ending the Korean War, and a normalization of relations with the United States. This seemed like a realizable goal in the last months of the Bill Clinton administration in 1999 and 2000. George W. Bush scuttled these efforts shortly after taking office in 2001. The Obama administration continued this policy with new sanctions and endless war games simulating the invasion and bombing of North Korea.
The anti-war movement and all progressive people and organizations should stand against any new war, and demand an end to the U.S.-South Korean provocations.
In the latest incident, the North and South Korean armies exchanged artillery fire on November 23. Two South Korean soldiers and two civilians were reported killed and others wounded. Casualties on the North Korean side have not been reported. As in all such previous incidents, U.S. and South Korean leaders condemned the DPRK. But, as even a close reading of the universally anti-North corporate media here reveals, the first shells were fired by the South during military exercises staged in a disputed sea area close to the west coast of North Korea.
The North Korean government stated that it was “reacting to the military provocation of the puppet group with a prompt powerful physical strike,” and accused Seoul of starting the skirmish with its “reckless military provocation as firing dozens of shells inside the territorial waters of the” North.
The roots of the crisis
The western sea border between the North and South is not recognized as legitimate by the DPRK. It was unilaterally created by the United States, using the mantle of the United Nations as a fig leaf and cover for its actions, at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The U.S. and allied forces fought the DPRK under the UN flag, slaughtering millions of Korean people and leveling the northern half of the country by massive bombing. That war further divided a historically unified society into competing states. While an armistice was signed in July 1953, the U.S. has refused the demands of the DPRK to sign a Peace Treaty formally bringing the war to an end.U.S.
“War Games” = Preparation for Real War
In recent years there have been at least three clashes in the same area as the November 23 incident. The DPRK had repeatedly warned South Korea against carrying out the latest “war games” the area. In fact, the term “war games” is a misnomer — these maneuvers should correctly be called dress rehearsals for war. No one knows, moreover, whether any particular military exercises is practice or the real thing, until it is over and done with. This is especially true when the “war games” take place in extremely close proximity to an enemy state.
The U.S. and South Korea annually stage such exercises close to both China and the DPRK. The latest and largest joint drills were held this past summer despite strong protests from both the PRC and DPRK. Those “games,” labeled “Invincible Spirit,” included a simulated invasion of the North.
China’s defense ministry especially objected to the presence of a U.S. aircraft carrier close to its coast. In typical arrogant fashion, a U.S. Defense Department spokesperson responded: “Where we exercise, when we exercise, with whom and how, using what assets and so forth, are determinations made by the U.S. Navy, the Department of Defense, by the United States government.” (Agence France Presse, July 15, 2010)
Imagine for a moment the reaction in Washington if the Chinese navy announced that it was planning to hold similar maneuvers right off-shore of New York or Los Angeles.
The Number 1 Provocation – U.S. Military Presence
The biggest provocation of all is the massive presence of U.S. military bases, troop, nuclear and conventional weapons in the region. In 2010, 65 years after the end of World War II, there are scores of U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine bases in Korea, Okinawa, and all across Japan. The U.S. has provided high tech weaponry of all kinds to Taiwan. Trident submarines, each of which can launch hundreds of nuclear warheads, and nuclear-armed aircraft carriers prowl the eastern Pacific round-the-clock.
This vast deployment of military power halfway around the world far exceeds that of any other country. It and the tens of billions of dollars it burns up every year is justified to the people here as being for “defensive purposes.” But that is just another Big Lie.
The real purpose of this monstrous military machine is to secure and further the interests of the U.S. corporate power and strategic domination in Asia and around the world. It is the enemy of the people of Korea, China, Japan and the people of the United States.