Apr 15 2013

Freedom Socialist Party: Is The Obama Administration Itching For A New War On The Korean Peninsula?

Source: Freedom Socialist Party (via Independent Political Report)

If you read the newspaper or watch TV, you know that something dangerous is going on in the Korean Peninsula. You likely know that Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s young leader, tested a long range rocket in December and set off an underground nuclear bomb in February. Since then he’s been issuing threats to South Korea and the US on a regular basis, so often in fact that he is now more or less dismissed by the media as unpredictable and unstable.

Playing opposite Kim in the media are the Obama administration and South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Elected on the promise to improve relations with the North, Park Geun-hye is sounding more bellicose by the day while the Obama administration ostensibly exercises “restraint” amid talk of “proportional retaliation,” should any of Kim’s threats become reality.

Quite a bit is missing from this good guys/bad guys media story line. In fact, the US is bringing the world to the edge of nuclear disaster by playing brinkmanship and bully with North Korea.

It is little mentioned that the North is responding to UN economic sanctions and joint US-South Korean military exercises involving 13,000 US troops and 200,000 Korean soldiers. The largest of these exercises, Foal Eagle, started March 1 and lasts until April 30. So far the US has sent to the region: two guided missile destroyers; two F22 Raptor Stealth fighters; two B-52 bombers with nuclear capacity that have conducted mock bombing runs in the South, including dropping dummy payloads; and a radar platform to track missile launches. Joining the US show of force is New Zealand.

The North answered these provocations by annulling the armistice between North and South Korea which was signed at the conclusion of the Korean War in 1953. At the same time, Kim declared a state of war between the two countries and announced the North was prepared to attack “all US military bases in the Asia Pacific region.” Obama responded by promising to put 14 additional missile interceptors in Alaska which presently has 26—at a cost of $1 billion–to ward off potential attack from North Korea, although it is universally understood that the North Korean military has no warheads capable of reaching either place at this time. Four interceptors are already stationed in California.

One might think that the South Koreans, since they are heavily armed, would be in charge of fighting a war with the North, should it come to that. Not so. It will be a US war fought by South Koreans and the US military–under US command.

And that is where things stand as of this writing. Does the Obama administration want a new war? Who knows? Some observers have concluded that the US military exercises off North Korea’s shores are muscle flexing with China to show the US can mount a military presence in northeast Asia where US capitalism is competing with the Chinese for markets. Yet another theory is that Obama is signaling Beijing to exert greater control over the North Korean regime.

What is clear is that the Obama administration is playing with fire. The US introduced nuclear weapons to the Korean peninsula in 1957. By the mid-1970s, the arsenal had grown to more than 1,000 tactical nuclear weapons, some of which were pulled out two decades later when the South began its own nuclear program. By arming the South Korean military to the teeth, stationing 28,000 US soldiers in the South, holding military exercises off the North Korean coast, refusing to engage in negotiations and tightening the economic blockade, the Obama administration is goading North Korea into dangerous territory and dragging all of humanity along with it.

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The first step to making sense of the headlines in this crisis is to understand how Korea became divided into two countries and the US role in the war that brought it about. Monica Hill’s February 2011 article “Behind the US demonization of North Korea” in the Freedom Socialist newspaper is an excellent place to start.

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