Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, History, North/South Korea, Nuclear weapons/power, Peace, War.
Tags: david swanson, dprk, history, korean war, north korea, north korea nuclear, sony hacking, south korea military
Roger’s note: the Korean War (excuse me, police action) has never ended. There has been an armistice since the early 1950s, but the US has always refused to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea. The US government needs its demons (the infamous “axis of evil”) more than it wants genuine peace. The demonization of a grotesque and cartoon like North Korea, via a complicit corporate media, is deeply embedded in the consciousness of most Americans.
Campaign created by David Swanson,
The U.S. should negotiate with North Korea on its proposal to cancel nuclear tests in exchange for a U.S. suspension of joint military exercises with South Korea
Why is this important?
The DPRK government (North Korea) disclosed on Jan. 10, 2015, that it had delivered to the United States the day before an important proposal to “create a peaceful climate on the Korean Peninsula.”
This year, we observe the 70th anniversary of the tragic division of Korea in 1945. The U.S. government played a major role in the arbitrary division of the country, as well as in the horrific Korean civil war of 1950-53, wreaking catastrophic devastation on North Korea, with millions of Korean deaths as well as the deaths of 50,000 American soldiers. It is hard to believe that the U.S. still keeps nearly 30,000 troops in South Korea today, even though the Armistice Agreement was signed back in 1953.
According to KCNA, the North Korean news agency, the DPRK’s message stated that if the United States “contribute(s) to easing tension on the Korean Peninsula by temporarily suspending joint military exercises in South Korea and its vicinity this year,” then “the DPRK is ready to take such responsive steps as temporarily suspending the nuclear test over which the U.S. is concerned.”
Unfortunately, it is reported that the U.S. State Department rejected the offer on Jan. 10, claiming that the two issues are separate. Such a quick spurning of the North’s proposal is not only arrogant but also violates one of the basic principles of the U.N. Charter, which requires of its members to “settle their international disputes by peaceful means.” (Article 2 ). To reduce the dangerous military tensions on the Korean Peninsula today, it is urgent that the two hostile States engage in mutual dialogue and negotiation for a peaceful settlement of the lingering Korean War, without any preconditions.
The North’s proposal comes at a time of increasing tensions between the U.S. and DPRK over a Sony film, which depicts a brutal CIA-induced assassination of the current North Korean leader. In spite of the growing doubts by many security experts, the Obama administration hastily blamed the North for last November’s hacking of the Sony Pictures’ computer system and subsequently imposed new sanctions on the country. Pyongyang proposed a joint investigation, denying its responsibility for the cyber-attacks.
The winter U.S.-R.O.K. (South Korea) war drill usually takes place in late Feb. DPRK put its troops on high military alert on such occasions in the past and conducted its own war drills in response. Pyongyang regards the large-scale joint war drills as a U.S. rehearsal for military attacks, including nuclear strikes, against North Korea. In the last year’s drill, the U.S. flew in B-2 stealth bombers, which can drop nuclear bombs, from the U.S. mainland, as well as bringing in U.S. troops from abroad. In fact, these threatening moves not only provoke the North but also violate the Korean War Armistice Agreement of 1953.
Instead of intensifying further sanctions and military pressures against the DPRK, the Obama administration should accept the recent offer from the North in good faith, and engage in negotiations to reach positive agreements to reduce military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
John Kim, Veterans for Peace, Korea Peace Campaign Project, Coordinator
Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, NY
Dr. Helen Caldicott
David Swanson, World Beyond War
Valerie Heinonen, o.s.u.,Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk for Justice and Peace, U.S. Province
David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Alfred L. Marder,U.S. Peace Council
David Hartsough, Peaceworkers, San Francisco, CA
Coleen Rowley, retired FBI agent/legal counsel and peace activist
John D. Baldwin
Arnie Saiki, Coordinator Moana Nui
Regina Birchem, Women’s International League for Peace and Justice, US
Rosalie Sylen, Code Pink, Long Island, Suffolk Peace Network
Helen Jaccard, Veterans For Peace Nuclear Abolition Working Group, Co-chair
Heinrich Buecker, Coop Anti-War Cafe Berlin
Sung-Hee Choi, Gangjeong village international team, Korea
1) NYT, 1/10/2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/world/asia/north-korea-offers-us-deal-to-halt-nuclear-test-.html?_r=0
2) KCNA, 1/10/2015
3) Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, “Strategic Patience with North Korea,” 11/21/2013, http://www.thediplomat/2013/11/strategic-patience-with-North-Korea.
Posted by rogerhollander in North/South Korea, Peace, War.
Tags: answer coaliton, history, korea armistice, korea truce, korean war, roger hollander
Roger’s note: I was born in January 1941, and my first memories have to do with the fears engendered by the “enemies” we were fighting in WWII, especially the “Yellow Japs.” Only a few years after the relief from the victory over the Axis, new fears arose about the spreading danger of Communism, and the U.S. was at war again in Korea. I can remember reading headlines in which the number of “Communists” were killed in a given battle, as if every North Korean solder was a card-carrying Communist threat to my liberty. I don’t remember reading anything about civilian casualties. I think few Americans are aware that the Korean War never ended, that, as the article below shows, an armistice was signed to end hostilities, but that the United States has refused to enter into a peace treaty to officially end the war. The U.S. government and media demonize the North Koreans, but is is the U.S. that has refused to normalize relations and which continues with a huge military presence in the Korean Peninsula.
60 years after the Armistice Agreement, demands for a Peace Treaty ring through Washington
August 1, 2013
July 27 marked the 60th anniversary of the date on which the United States signed an Armistice Agreement to temporarily halt its war of aggression on the people of Korea. But to this day, the U.S. government refuses to sign a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War. Thus, the two sides are technically still at war, and the war continues in a very real way on a daily basis.
The United States still has tens of thousands of troops occupying the peninsula and militarizing the false border between North and South Korea. Sanctions and an economic blockade are maintained against North Korea, and are combined with threats of military aggression in addition to war games that simulate invasion and bombing, all while North Korea is depicted as the aggressor.
For the past 60 years, Korean American and U.S. anti-war organizations have joined the demands of the people in North and South Korea for peace and reunification.
To mark this important anniversary, the National Campaign to End the Korean War called for a “Korea Peace Weekend” on July 26-27 in Washington, D.C., which included a rally and march, film showing, strategy meeting and Congressional visits.
People calling for an end to the Korean War traveled from across the country – from California and Oregon to New York and New Jersey to the Washington/Maryland/Virginia area – to converge in Washington, D.C. The gathering came at the same time as an official ceremony held by the U.S. Department of Defense at which President Obama spoke and declared the Korean War to be a victory for the U.S. government.
The morning of the official ceremony, July 27, activists stood on the corner of Constitution Avenue and 17th Street, holding signs and banners, and loudly chanting as President Obama’s motorcade drove by. Chanting “Peace Treaty Now – End the Korean War,” they then marched to the White House, where they held a rally followed by a picket on the White House sidewalk.
That evening, they held the D.C. premier of the new film “Memory of Forgotten War” from award-winning filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem and Ramsay Liem, professor emeritus at Boston College. This powerful new documentary follows the stories of four Korean Americans who witnessed firsthand the war’s devastation and its aftermath.
The film was followed by a Q&A with co-director Ramsay Liem and a panel featuring Stephen McNeil from the American Friends Service Committee, Sarah Sloan from the ANSWER Coalition and Hyuk-Kyo Suh from the National Association of Korean Americans.
All of the organizations involved in the activities vowed to continue their struggle until the U.S. government signs a peace treaty and ends all aspects of its war on the Korean peninsula.
Posted 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
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?
Thomas Walkom’s column appears Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, North/South Korea.
Tags: answer coalition, brian becker, gregory elich, korea peace treaty, korean war, north korea, north korea governemnt, north korea nuclear, north korea sanctions, roger hollander
If you listen to the Obama administration and corporate media propaganda campaign, you’ll learn that North Korea is acting provocatively and aggressively by conducting a nuclear weapons test — but the new propaganda blitz against North Korea is as contrived as Bush and Clinton’s campaign of regime change against Iraq.
It is the United States that is provoking a new crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
The United States possesses the largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world and has been staging massive war exercises along with the South Korean military close to North Korea’s territory in recent days, simulating the invasion and bombing of North Korea. The United States and South Korea have been staging such exercises every few months.
The U.S. government has imposed draconian economic sanctions designed to undermine North Korea’s ability to live.
North Korea was invaded by the United States in 1950 and millions of Koreans died.
Having learned the lesson of the Iraq invasion, the North Korean government decided to resume its nuclear weapons program and prepare for war. But what North Korea really wants is a peace treaty ending the Korean War of 1950-53, an end to economic sanctions and a normalization of relations with the United States.
To learn the truth about the U.S.-North Korean conflict we are providing three important resources in this email:
Please help us expose the lies and distortions spread by the White House, the Pentagon and the corporate media by sharing this via Facebook, Twitter and email.
Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, War, Foreign Policy, North/South Korea.
Tags: roger hollander, war, north korea, korean war, obama administration, south korea, answer coalition, korea, Kim Myung-bak, dprk, uss george washington, korea armistice, korea peace treaty, war games
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.
Posted by rogerhollander in Art, Literature and Culture, War.
Tags: 9/11, Afghanistan War, arabic poetry, berkeley professor, bush's war, canada poetry, czeslaw milosz, griffin poetry prize, haiku, Iraq war, korean war, matsuo basho, michael judge, poet laureate, Poetry, political poetry, robert hass, roger hollander, topical poetry, Vietnam War, war
One benefit of being a poet — as opposed to, say, a politician or talk-show host — is that you can be the most celebrated person in your field, a virtual rock star among those who study, read and write poetry, and still remain anonymous in just about any public setting.
The thought occurs to me as I stand outside one of this city’s finer Japanese-fusion restaurants (a fancy joint called Yoshi’s) chain smoking and awaiting the arrival of Robert Hass, a poetry rock star if ever there was one.
Last year alone the 68-year-old Berkeley professor won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for his collection of poems “Time and Materials.” From 1995-97 he was America’s poet laureate, and he used the post in innovative ways to promote literacy. From 1997-2000 he wrote the popular “Poet’s Choice” column for the Washington Post, introducing readers to his favorite poets each week. His translations of Japanese haiku and the works of Czeslaw Milosz — the late, great Polish poet, winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature — are read the world over.
Former poet laureate Robert Hass
Still, for the life of me, I can’t remember what he looks like. So, after approaching a few slightly startled gentlemen in his age bracket, I’m relieved when a pleasant man with a warm countenance, wearing blue jeans and a black windbreaker, extends his hand and says simply, “I’m Bob.”
After snuffing out my cigarette, I tell him my wife Masae awaits us inside and is holding what we hope will be a quiet booth where we can talk. Alas, there’s a speaker above us blaring jazz, and adjacent diners are shouting above the din. Undaunted, we peruse the wine list. “Buttery and oaky is the classic California chardonnay that everyone’s gotten sick of,” says the poet, with a slight grin. “But I haven’t!” And with that we order a bottle from California’s Santa Rita Hills and begin.
He’s just flown in from Toronto, he tells us, where he attended the Griffin Poetry Prize ceremony, and asks that we please forgive him if he “fades early.” The Griffin Prize, Mr. Hass explains, was founded by Canadian philanthropist Scott Griffin, who annually awards an impressive $50,000 to one Canadian poet (this year’s winner is A.F. Moritz) and one non-Canadian poet (C.D. Wright). After the ceremony, there’s a gala bash. “It’s the kind of party where there’s a flowing chocolate fountain and an open bar where poets don’t do very well.” He says I should write a story about it, and offers to put me in touch with the Griffin folks.
But before I can ask him for details, he’s on to another topic: a Berkeley-based nonprofit called the International Rivers Network. “I’m the only poet on the board,” he says. “It’s an environmental organization that thinks about the ecological consequences of big dams” and provides “real life estimates of the damage done by these big boondoggle projects to the people who are trying to resist them.” The group has worked in some 60 countries, he says, to help prevent the kind of cultural and environmental devastation caused by projects like the Three Gorges dam on China’s Yangtze River.
Suddenly, like a guest who feels he’s gone on too long, Mr. Hass apologizes and peppers us with questions. “How long are we here?” “Where are we from?” “How did we meet?” When he discovers my wife is from Japan and we met in Tokyo the conversation turns to his love for haiku, particularly the poems of the 17th century master Matsuo Basho.
In the early 1970s, he says, “I tried to teach myself something about how to make images from working on haiku . . . I had this real paradisiacal period in my life where I would teach, come home, get out the Japanese dictionary, work on haiku, then go swim laps for an hour, then have dinner and put my kids to bed. . . .”
Just then our waitress brings the “Fisherman Carpaccio,” a flower-like assemblage of raw fish marinated in soy with a dash of karashi hot mustard and sesame oil. We order another bottle of chardonnay, and I attempt to ask another question. “That’s a really pretty presentation, don’t you think?” says Mr. Hass, admiring the dish that’s just arrived. “Can we stop?” He then turns to my wife, who’s a potter and chef, and asks, “What do you think about this presentation? And about saying this is carpaccio rather than sashimi?”
Right about now I begin to feel as if we’re inside a Robert Hass poem. They are known for their playfulness with language, love of long, sprawling sentences, and, above all, a kind of unquenchable honesty, a wrestling with memory and the world as it is. Yet listening to him talk it strikes me that he isn’t self-absorbed. He is, in fact, other-absorbed. His conversation, like his poetry, is full of wonder and horror, two wholly appropriate reactions to human history — or a plate of sashimi-cum-carpaccio.
In “Time and Materials,” published in 2007, Mr. Hass addresses everything from “Poor Nietzsche in Turin . . . Dying of syphilis . . . in love with the opera of Bizet” to an early memory of his father grinding up the antidrinking drug Antabuse (“It makes you sick if you drink alcohol,” he writes) and forcing his long-suffering, alcoholic mother to swallow it. Later, he watched as she sat down with a bottle of booze and “gagged and drank, Drank and gagged.” In another poem, he writes of his father’s death and his feelings of “love and anger and dismay and relief at the sudden peacefulness / of his face. . . .”
In a poem for his friend and longtime collaborator, Czeslaw Milosz — who died in Krakow in 2005 at the age of 93 after living through the Nazi occupation of Poland and the rise and fall of communism — Mr. Hass writes how Milosz “never accepted the cruelty in the frame / Of things, brooded on your century, and God the Monster, / And the smell of summer grasses in the world / That can hardly be named or remembered / Past the moment of our wading through them, / And the world’s poor salvation in the word.”
This idea, this lament — “the world’s poor salvation in the word,” that language often fails us, yet it’s our only hope for redemption — permeates Mr. Hass’s latest book, which was completed in 2005 at the height of the Iraq war. In a poem titled “Bush’s War,” he conflates 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with the brutal history of the 20th century, when the slaughter of civilians and the “firebombing” of entire cities was commonplace. “Forty-five million, all told, in World War II,” he writes. “Why do we do it?” Certainly there’s a rage / To injure what’s injured us.”
To Mr. Hass, who’s married to the poet and antiwar activist Brenda Hillman, terms like “collateral damage” and “soft targets” are not merely euphemisms but sacrilege. In another poem, written after visiting the demilitarized zone that separates South and North Korea, he writes: “The human imagination does not do well with large numbers. / More than two and a half million people died during the Korean / War. It seems it ought to have taken more time to wreck so many / bodies.”
Raised in a Catholic household, Mr. Hass attended parochial school not far from here in the Marin County suburb of San Rafael and had, like his friend Milosz, a “relentlessly moral upbringing.” His first book, “Field Guide,” earned him the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets Award in 1973. In it, he writes lovingly of the lush California coast, but he also questions the relevance of romantic or elevated poetry in a violent age. Responding to Baudelaire he writes, “Surely the poet is monarch of the clouds. / He hovers, like a lemon-colored kite, / over spring afternoons in the nineteenth century / while Marx in the library gloom / studies the birth rate of the weavers of Tilsit / and that gentle man Bakunin . . . applies his numb hands / to the making of bombs.”
I mention how his first book and his most recent were both written when America was at war and, in a way, deal with similar subjects. “The Vietnam War and the Iraq war, in different ways, both made me feel like I could not not address them. I’m very doubtful about the usefulness of poetry to do that,” he says. And yet, “In this really violent, imperfect world where you’re not just a writer but you’re a writer writing in one of the languages of the rich and developed world . . . [you have] some responsibility for the world . . . [because] the way the world is seen gets framed in those languages.”
He pauses, takes a drink of wine, then continues: “I have a Libyan poet friend who thinks that part of the big problem with the Arabic world is Arabic poetry, that . . . there’s a certain level of elevation of the language that doesn’t make a description of reality possible. Not to make too much of a claim for poetry, but this is a question that goes to the moral heart of the business of any art: How do you see the world and what right do you have to see the world in the way that you do?
“And part of the answer is, artists don’t really have a choice. You don’t get to pick how you see the world. A lot of my appetite is for a kind of pure poetry . . . and one of the things I identified with and felt like I understood about Czeslaw was that he was raised with an appetite for pure poetry in a world in which he thought it was not available to him as an option . . . after living through the underground in Warsaw seeing the entire Jewish community hauled off and killed, and seeing 250,000 Polish kids go out in the street and get mowed down by the Germans.”
In his 1980 Nobel acceptance speech, Milosz said something similar: “Those who are alive receive a mandate from those who are silent forever. They can fulfill their duties only by trying to reconstruct precisely things as they were, and by wresting the past from fictions and legends.”
This is the work of the poet. And this, it seems to me, is the work that our dinner guest has undertaken.
Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Mr. Judge is a contributing editor of The Far Eastern Economic Review
Posted by rogerhollander in Foreign Policy, History, North/South Korea, War.
Tags: 38th parallel, atomic bomb, harry truman, jay janson, korean civil war, korean police action, korean war, north korea history, north korea nuclear, north korea nuclear capacity, noth korea, Obama, obama promise, rhee, roger hollander
www.opednews.com, May 27, 2009
North Korea again in the news.
Ominously, President Obama has promised “action” after denouncing North Korea’s underground nuclear explosion on May 26th. This follows Obama’s recent successful call for increased UN sanctions after North Korea’s space rocket launch – which apparently sent the wrong message with counterproductive effect – that is, unless Obama wanted North Korea to feel threatened.
Scary, because it should be of frighteningly serious concern that yet another nation comes to have nuclear weapon technology that could possibly be transferred to, or fall in the hands of terrorists seeking homicidal vengeance for the America,s predatory hegemony over the poorer and vulnerable nations of the world.
Where is this new diplomacy of open communication with enemy nations the electorate was promised and commercial media keeps announcing?
Shall we not best ponder whether the North Korean insistence that its tests of weaponry are intended enhance its defensive strength in the face of US threats could be based on its perception of reality.
On November 30, 1950, President Truman at a press conference, remarked that the use of the atomic bomb was under active consideration. Koreans heard this as menacingly foreboding apocalypse, for U.S. forces were in retreat and had suffered some serious losses subsequent to China sending ‘volunteer’ forces to help the North Koreans defend as U.S. forces neared the Chinese border some 45 days earlier.
Originally, the civil war had been over, the North having won quickly and easily when the U.S. invaded, subsequently punishing Korea with millions of casualties.
North Korea was bombed to rubble by the U.S. which also leveled almost every town in South Korea to prevent the overthrow of the U.S. sponsored Rhee dictatorship (Rhee was forced to flee the country a few years after the war anyway).
The period immediately before the war was marked by escalating border conflicts at the 38th Parallel and attempts to negotiate elections for the entirety of Korea. The years befpre had seen rebellions in the South, one occasioning a terrible massacre of 30,000 on Cheju Island far off the southern tip of South Korea, under U.S. occupation. Koreans, both North and South, are well aware of this turbulent history that predates the North’s successful invasion
Not many years ago, the president of a civilian government in South
Korea apologized to its people for the massacres that happened there even years after the U.S. ‘police action’ was over.
The Clinton administration expressed regret to Koreans for the massacres of civilians by U.S. troops, which South Koreans were finally permitted to talk about.
But no American president has seen fit to apologize for similar massacres which occurred as the US conquered North Korea. The United States apologizing to an announced ‘enemy’ in today’s climate of empire would be unheard of, especially within conglomerate owned war promoting media. After all, whatever damage done to an designated enemy must be advantageous. Our United States is not about to apologize for what we did to Korea or any other country even before it was designated an enemy. President Wilson signed on to the Japanese occupation of Korea and Truman’s divided Korea in two, once the Japanese surrendered.
Heartlessly, most political leaders in the world dominating industrialized nations insist that the death a couple of million Koreans was worth preventing a unified Korea under communist government. Communist Russia eventually evaporated, and communist, in name only, China and Vietnam are now welcomed trading partners. A permitted communist Korea might have just as likely evolved into an acceptable near capitalist society as well.
North Koreans have the memory of the most brutal of bombings, protracted war, the U.S. invasion which included UN documented massacres, the further devastation incurred in expelling the U.S. Army and Navy with the aid of the Chinese, plus threats of atomic bombing and terrifying cautions and warnings of U.S. bacteriological warfare.
North Koreans, have also experienced terrible suffering during the postwar rebuilding of their scorched land while under duress of strict U.S. sanctions. Progressives in the West attribute some of the responsibility for the severity of the government in the North, and the lack of freedom of its people, to the effects of the merciless and vindictive foreign policy of the U.S., which has kept tens of thousands of troops near its border all these years, while decrying the North’s massive buildup of its military.
Of course all this is justified in U.S. commercial media with an American shrug of the shoulders and, ‘The North attacked the South first,’ and the North was a communist dictatorship. It still is, but a lot more intense about the strength of its military.
Russia and China are for finding a solution in the six party negotiations. Obama is again for increasing punishment, while certainly knowing that this is merely heating up the confrontation between the massive American Empire and a diminutive, by comparison, North Korea, once pulverized by U.S. air power.
Seems like candidate Obama’s promise of talking to one’s ‘enemies’ is being replaced by threats and punishments, rather openly in the case of North Korea, and Iran, while setting stern preconditions for lifting the economic blockade on Cuba.
North Korea is going to a lot of expense to acquire nuclear capability. Is it possible that America has fueled this paranoid impulse with its past threat to nuke North Korea, and its subsequent efforts to isolate and vilify its government as Evil.
Note: For further background on North Korea’s perhaps understandable fears or dangerous paranoia see articles below:
More than 100,000 massacred by allies during Korean War, Telegraph Co.,UK, by Richard Spencer in Seoul, 29 Dec 2008
“More than 100,000 South Korean civilians were massacred by allied troops fighting alongside Britain and the US in the Korean War, an official investigation has revealed.
Obama Calls on U.N. to Punish North Korea Over Rocket, but WHO PUNISHES THE U.S.? April 6, 2009, OpEdNews
Commercial media feeding frenzy on the space missile launch by North Korea at the same time whipping up fear of Iran. Obama has harsh words for North Korea, as earlier for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Venezuela and Iran, which received a kind invite to talk mixed in with such severe public criticism as to make the invitation unacceptable. So far, Obama, both as president and as commander-in-chief belies change to serious diplomacy.
April 17, 2009, OpEdNew
On the Need for Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in America
“In 2005, in keeping with its maturation as a constitutional democracy, the South Korean National Assembly established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to seek to “reveal the truth behind civilian massacres during the Korean War and human rights abuses during the [South Korean] authoritarian period and recent evidence of U.S. and South Korean responsibility for the massacre of civilians before and during the Korean War.”
Feb. 27, 2008, OpEdNews
NY Phil Plays in a Korea Once Destroyed by U.S. Invasion, Flattened by U.S. Bombers
“Beautiful telecast. Koreans interviewed spoke of avowed resolve to protect their country,they knew Americans were their enemies, spoke softly, politely, with calm pleasant countenance. Americans can go on thinking they were good guys doing good. But they might like to remember that ‘good’ was done in Korea, to Koreans, all of whom were not in agreement that it was for their own good. Picasso’s Cheju Massacre Painting sobering”
Posted by rogerhollander in Economic Crisis.
Tags: bailout, economic history, government spending, Iraq war, korean war, louisiana purchase, marshall plan, moon landing, nasa, New Deal, roger hollander, s&l crisis, Stimulus, stimulus package, Vietnam War, Wall Street, wall street bonuses, wealth redistribution, world war II
January 30, 2009 — whatthecrap?
So how big is the resulting $1.2 trillion spending package? Big enough to dwarf any government program in history, even after adjusting for inflation. It’s bigger than the New Deal and the Iraq War combined. The interest alone will be costlier than going to the moon or the Louisiana Purchase. The $18 billion in bonuses paid legally by private Wall Street firms in 2008 – decried by the President as “shameful” – is vanishingly small in comparison (smaller even than the bill’s incremental food stamps expenditures).
The only relatively modest component of the spending bonanza is the money tagged for infrastructure and energy efficiency (the ostensibly stimulative part), which accounts for less than 14% of the total.
…The bailout has cost more than all of these big budget government expenditures – combined:
• Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
• Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
• Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
• S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
• Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
• The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
• Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
• Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
• NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion
TOTAL: $3.92 trillion
The only single American event in history that even comes close to matching the cost of the credit crisis is World War II: Original Cost: $288 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $3.6 trillion
The $4.6165 trillion dollars committed so far is about a trillion dollars ($979 billion dollars) greater than the entire cost of World War II borne by the United States: $3.6 trillion, adjusted for inflation (original cost was $288 billion).