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What’s So Bad About Peace, Man?

Photo by Ragnar Jensen | Public Domain

US capitalism needs markets. US capitalism needs cheap labor. US capitalism needs resources. Donald Trump’s vision of Trump hotels on the northern Korean beaches is a metaphor for what Washington and Wall Street see when Korea becomes one again. After all, isn’t that what happened in Vietnam? Global capitalism is a cancer that needs to consume nations to survive. Washington wants to continue its tradition as the most predatory of all the capitalist nations. Kim Song Un might be the northern Korean leader to finally fall for Washington’s game. Donald Trump apparently believes he is the one who can lead the charge.

There are no communist nations any more. That means no Stalinist ones, none aligned with the Fourth International, and no Maoist ones either. Instead, there are two or three authoritarian variations on the Chinese model instituted by Deng Tsiao Peng; in other words, state controlled market capitalist economies with intense police and security apparatus. China is foremost among these nations. Indeed, it gives the capitalist nations like the United States and Russia a run for their money. Arguably, the big difference between China and the other two nations is that the State controls China’s banking and industry while in Russia and the United States the opposite is true. In other words, the State is controlled by the banks and industry. Either way, the pursuit of profit is the motor that drives them all. It is what drives them to exploit the labor of their own people and destroy the environment. It is also what drives the more aggressive among them to invade and occupy other nations. Likewise, it is what drives them to abuse immigrants looking for work and deport and imprison those who are not needed.

After World War Two, a very arrogant and self-assured United States made war on nations and peoples who were not interested in becoming part of Washington’s sphere of influence. The Korean people were among the targets of the Pentagon’s wrath who suffered the most. Despite the murderous war waged against them, the northern part of the peninsula made itself into a secure and mostly self-sufficient state. This was despite repeated and constant threats of military action by the United States and its client regime in Seoul. However, after the fall of the Soviet Union, things began to get worse. After a series of promises made in 1993 were not kept by the United States, the government in Pyongyang restarted its nuclear weapons program. This brought more threats of war from Washington; threats which were fortunately not carried out. Now, after blustery threats from Washington that were answered by similar bombast from Pyongyang, the two nations seem to be open to the idea of resolving their differences. This is not because of Donald Trump or Mr. Pompeo, but due to the desire of the leaders of the divided nation to move forward no matter what outside powers might say. To their credit, someone in the White House made it clear to Trump that he would be wise to go along.

This does not mean that there will be global peace. Indeed, Washington’s remaining enemies are likely to feel the negative results of any moves toward a peace treaty in Korea. Like the agreements with the Soviet Union after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the Nixon rapprochement with China in 1972, the motivation for a Korean agreement is not based in a desire for peace. It is based in a desire to maintain US dominance in the global game of power and control. In the two cases cited, this meant creating temporary alliances to oppose a greater threat to US designs. The thinking of those who control the game seems to be if this can be done via manipulation and treachery designated as diplomacy, all for the better. However, if it requires threats of war and war itself, then so be it. For those of us who are little more than collateral damage, the recourse is to constantly demand disarmament and peace.

As the mainstream liberal reaction to Trump’s overtures to Pyongyang makes clear, demanding peace and disarmament is not part of their standard agenda (just like it isn’t part of the GOP/conservative wing of the US government). In fact, the reaction of many Democrats and several liberal media outlets is reminiscent of George W. Bush’s labeling Iran, northern Korea and Iraq as the “Axis of Evil.” The liberal refusal to see the potential peace in Korea as a positive development because of their hatred of Trump (and their own ideological dependence on the binary world of the moribund Cold War) is pathological at the least, if not just plain sociopathic. The fact that their reaction has actually made the reprehensible and hateful Trump look like a reasonable and even good human being says it all. Furthermore, as many other leftists have pointed out, it rips the mask from the lie that the Democrats are the party of peace—a lie that destroyed the antiwar movement in the United States when Obama’s forces used it to get their man elected.

It is important to remember that nothing substantial has really changed in the relationship between Pyongyang and Washington. However, the potential for a peace treaty is considerably greater than it was before June 11, 2018. This is a good thing for the people of Korea, the people of Asia and the people of the world. We can’t let this opportunity pass by. Attempts by Trump’s political opponents to prevent forward motion on a peace treaty, including the denuclearization of Korea by all sides and the removal of US troops from the region, should be called out for the warmongering moves they are. At the same time, the rest of Trump’s agenda—from the attacks on immigrants and people of color to the ramping up of war and threats of war in other parts of the world—should be opposed with even more fervor than now.

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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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