In Korea, Who should Really be Afraid?

Korea Infographic

Originally published in the Dorchester People for Peace Update, September 8, 2017

Pyongyang, North Korea is 6000 miles from Los Angeles. But the US surrounds Korea with dozens of bases housing tens of thousands of US troops – never mind the much larger armed forces of US allies in the region.  For decades the US maintained tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula, and today US naval and air forces around Korea deploy hundreds of nuclear weapons, with thousands more in the US which could hit North Korea. The US and South Korean armed forces regularly conduct large joint military exercises which simulate, among other things, the invasion of North Korea.  During the Korean War from 1951-53 US airpower nearly obliterated North Korea, killing an estimated 3 million people, mostly civilians; the US and South Korea were never willing to sign a peace agreement that left a North Korean government in power, so technically a state of war still exists.

Important historical background here: How History Explains the Korean Crisis and hereTen Points on Korean History of Potential Current Relevance

Of course, it is always worrying when a new country achieves nuclear weapons capability.  But the US has not threatened war against Israel, India or Pakistan.  If the US were genuinely concerned about nuclear proliferation and the threat of a nuclear apocalypse, then it would have a better moral basis for opposing North Korean nuclear capabilities if it were willing, together with the other nuclear weapons powers, to support the UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty that has the overwhelming support of the world’s nations.

Who is Begging for War? The Poor Understanding of the American Conflict in North Korea 

There is something unseemly about the fact that we – humans – have accepted the presence of thermonuclear bombs in the arsenals of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The hyperventilation of these five hydrogen bomb powers to the North Korean test would bewilder a normal person, a person who sees world affairs with an element of rationality. What makes it morally impossible for North Korea to have a dangerous weapon of this magnitude, while it is seen as perfectly acceptable for the quivering finger of Donald Trump to rest on the button of a US inter-continental ballistic missile that carries a hydrogen bomb?  … You don’t need to understand Korean culture to see why the North Korean regime is obstinate to build up its nuclear shield. Unless the United States and its allies downgrade their threats against North Korea, there will be no possibility of peace in North-west Asia. Indeed, this no longer a regional struggle. The hydrogen bomb changes everything. This is a global catastrophe. It is necessary to demand the creation of a real process for peace, not belligerent talk from the UN chamber.   More

Stepping Away from the Brink of Nuclear War

For Kim Yong Un to give up his nuclear weapons, while we keep ours and have announced that we intend to overthrow his regime, would be tantamount to his committing suicide. He may be evil, as many believe, but there is no reason to believe that he is a fool…    Thus, there can be no “success,” as described in current policy statements by the Trump administration. But, arrangements can be created – by enlisting China and Russia as partners in negotiations and by renouncing threats and such damaging (and ineffective) policies as sanctions – to gradually create an atmosphere in which North Korea can be accepted as a partner in the nuclear “club.”   …If the United States government should decide to try this option, I think the following steps will have to be taken to start negotiations:  First, the U.S. government must accept the fact that North Korea is a nuclear power;  Second, it must commit itself formally and irrevocably to a no-first-strike policy. That was the policy envisaged by the Founding Fathers when they denied the chief executive the power to initiate aggressive war;  Third, it must remove sanctions on North Korea and begin to offer in a phased pattern aid to mitigate the current (and potentially future) famines caused by droughts and crop failures; helping North Korea to move toward prosperity, and reducing fear; and  Fourth, stop issuing threats and drop the unproductive and provocative war games on the DMZ.   More