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Stop the Idiocy! Stop the Mattis-ness!

This is just freaking crazy. Mad Dog Mattis—one of the so-called sane guys in the Trump White House—is discussing northern Korean targets with his henchmen (and women I suppose). Great Britain’s Theresa May can hardly wait to get Britain’s military into a potentially nuclear conflagration in Asia while other governments hold their tongues perhaps thinking any war on the Korean peninsula might somehow have a beneficial result. Evacuation drills are being run on Americans in Korea. Meanwhile, potential elements of a movement against another senseless and bloody war are sending memes on Facebook about kneeling athletes and sexual predators in Hollywood. Not that those things are not important, but they will mean very little if hundreds of thousands die in a war of US aggression.

Is there no antiwar movement because people don’t believe Trump and his crew will actually go to war? Or is there no antiwar movement because too many US residents actually believe that the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) prefers war to negotiations acknowledging their status and paving a way to a peace treaty with the US and Seoul? After all, it is rarely mentioned that the DPRK has repeatedly said that if there is a treaty to end the Korean War that it will cease pursuit of nuclear weapons technology. Perhaps the reason there is no movement opposing the moves towards war because most of the American people actually think that the Korean people need to be murdered en masse. If that is the case, and I hope it isn’t, then there truly is no hope for this bloodthirsty excuse of a nation.

The prelude to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq saw millions of people in the streets of the world’s cities. Although Bush, Blair and company went ahead and began what may well have been the world’s most unpopular war, the existence of such a large antiwar movement had to have affected their plans. The continued popularity of that movement in later years certainly affected the way Washington and London dealt with the insurgency against their occupation. Likewise, the existence of antiwar movements against earlier US wars of aggression in Central America and Vietnam forced the Pentagon and its sycophantic civilian cohorts to pull back on their plans for complete and total victory.

When discussing the current situation in Korea it is absolutely essential to include its beginnings. Let me quote from a piece I wrote over fifteen years ago. I believe it explains quite clearly how things got to where they are today, especially when one considers the countless number of antagonistic episodes between Pyongyang and Washington since the truce signing in 1953.

Near the end of the Second World War, right before the U.S. dropped the bomb on Japan, the Soviet Union moved into northern Korea to fight the occupying Japanese troops. Within weeks of Japan’s surrender, democratic groups of Korean peasants, merchants, and workers formed local governing organizations and begin to organize a national assembly. The U.S. and U.S.S.R., meanwhile, chose to maintain a “temporary” occupation of the country with the 38th parallel as the dividing line. This occupation was to end after the Koreans established their own government, and Korea was to reunite. However, after the United States realized that the makeup of any Korean-organized government would be anti-colonial, it reneged on its promise.

Within weeks of the election of a popular national assembly, the Soviet Union began to withdraw its forces. The U.S., however, increased its military strength and coordinated security with the remnants of the hated Japanese army. At the same time, Synghman Rhee, an ultra-right Korean politician who was living in America, was flown back to Korea (with the assistance of the US intelligence community). He immediately began to liquidate the popular movement in Southern Korea and, with the complete support of the U.S. military, refused to acknowledge the existence of the newly elected national assembly. In the weeks following his installment as ruler of Southern Korea, over 100,000 Korean citizens were murdered and disappeared. The United States military provided the names of many of the victims.

After realizing that the United States had no plans to withdraw its troops, the Soviet Union put its withdrawal on hold and asked for assistance from the People’s Republic of China. In the days and weeks that passed, military units from the south persistently forayed into the northern half of Korea, testing its defenses. Eventually, although the exact details remain unclear, Northern Korean and Chinese troops attacked. On June 25, 1950, the U.S. responded, using the authority of the U.N. Security Council, and the Korean War began. Three years and one month later an armistice was signed between the warring sides.

The toll in lives was: 36, 546 US soldiers, an estimated 1.5 million Koreans on both sides of the parallel (mostly civilians), 200,000 Chinese soldiers, and another 4000 soldiers from armies that allied themselves with the United States.  In addition, there were more than million wounded and/or missing.

Ever since, the US has refused to sign a peace treaty, even when Seoul wanted them to.

Since that truce signing, the government in Seoul has alternated between being anti-DPRK and being more open to negotiating some kind of treaty that will open the border on the 38th parallel and ultimately reunite the divided Koreas into one nation. The current government tends toward the latter philosophy although that is being tested by the current situation. Stuck between a bellicose Pyongyang and an even more bellicose Washington, DC, Seoul finds itself with little room to maneuver. Although it does not want war, it is also unsure of how genuine northern Korea’s Kim Song Um’s threats of war are. Likewise, it is unsure how real the threats of war from Washington actually are. Consequently, Seoul is accepting military assistance from Washington that it had refused earlier, while simultaneously calling for talks instead of combat. One assumes that recent offers from Jimmy Carter and others to begin some kind of talks are broadly supported by the Seoul regime.

Unfortunately, those talks (or any other such efforts to negotiate) may very well be in vain. The Pentagon is stepping up its never-ending exercises in the area while Donald Trump, various US legislators, the Japanese government, and certain US generals talk as if they are hoping for war. Like pubescent boys uncertain of their masculinity, Pyongyang and Washington are waging a pissing contest with radioactive consequences. While an antiwar movement might not be able to stop this war of tweets from becoming something much more deadly, it is virtually guaranteed that if there is no popular opposition to the growing threat of war the madmen in power will have few if any qualms at launching their bomber planes, missiles and other hardware.

There is a real need for a movement opposing US wars and war moves around the world. Nowhere is this need greater than in regards to the Korean peninsula. Our demands should be simple:
Negotiations, not war.
Withdraw all foreign troops from Korea.

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Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

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