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South Korea, U.S. maneuvers threaten war on DPRK

Published May 26, 2010 1:41 PM

It was a full-court press, concocted by the U.S. government and the rightist regime in South Korea and eagerly magnified by the corporate media.

Back on March 26 a South Korean Navy warship, the Cheonan, sank near the maritime border with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Of the 104 crew members aboard, 46 perished.

Almost immediately, the government of Lee Myung-bak in the south accused the DPRK of having torpedoed the vessel.

An “international” investigation team was set up. Basically, it was a team composed of the U.S., which occupies South Korea with nearly 30,000 troops, and the Lee regime. Britain and Australia, tight U.S. allies, were added to give it a little more cover. This group came up with the foregone conclusion that yes, the ship had been sunk by a submarine from the DPRK. Skeptical voices were raised in South Korea, but they were quickly shouted down by the media.

China later expressed skepticism that a DPRK submarine had sunk the South Korean ship, but their skepticism got little publicity here.

The DPRK denied any involvement and counter-charged that the Lee regime was trying to torpedo agreements made some years ago between the north and the south that had improved relations between the two. It also announced that it would send a team from its National Defense Council to examine the “evidence” the south claimed to have.

As an important meeting between China and the U.S. on security and economic issues drew near, the Western news media began focusing on how Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was rounding up support for U.N. sanctions on the DPRK, and would raise it vigorously in Beijing.

On May 24, the same day that the U.S.-China meeting was starting, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, himself a former South Korean foreign minister, came out in support of sanctions on the DPRK and said the results of the “international” investigation were not in dispute.

The diplomatic maneuvers were accompanied by military threats against the DPRK. The same day as Ban Ki-moon’s statement, South Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Yu Myung-hwan, Minister of National Defense Kim Tae-young and Minister of Unification Hyun In-taek held a joint press conference in Seoul. They announced that the South Korean government would prohibit all DPRK vessels from entering their territorial waters. They also said that they and the U.S. Navy would proceed with a massive joint “anti-submarine” exercise in the area.

Clearly, U.S. submarines that prowl the seas around Korea would not be the targets of this military move.

The Lee regime said it would also ban trade with the north and further limit travel there. It would also resume blasting anti-DPRK propaganda from high-decibel speakers near the demilitarized zone that divides Korea.

The South Korean regime also turned down the request by the DPRK’s National Defense Council to let a team of investigators from the north examine the so-called evidence that supposedly justifies this dangerous escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Legacy of Korea’s division

The danger of military confrontation on the Korean peninsula has existed ever since Korea was divided after World War II. The U.S. set up a puppet dictatorship in the south that was fiercely hostile to communist-led forces in the north that, fighting alongside Soviet troops, had defeated Japan’s occupying force at the end of the war.

Kim Il Sung, the leader of the liberation army, was a revolutionary. He represented a social movement that encouraged the people to overthrow the landlords, merchants and petty officials who had collaborated with Japan during its period of harsh colonial rule over Korea, which lasted from 1910 to 1945.

It was different in the south, which was occupied by U.S. troops at the end of the war. There, the U.S. actually rearmed Japanese troops under its command in order to keep the revolution from spreading. It set up a government headed by Koreans willing to collaborate with foreign exploiters — be they U.S. or Japanese imperialists. The Syngman Rhee dictatorship carried out massacres of those who sympathized with the revolutionary movement to liberate all of Korea.

As the north developed toward a socialist society, the south was brought into the world capitalist economy as a U.S. vassal. Soviet troops left the north after three years, but the U.S. has never ended its occupation of the south.

From 1950 to 1953, when the U.S. waged a full-scale war against socialist Korea, a million Chinese volunteers came to the aid of their neighbors. Having just won their own long struggle for liberation, they fought to prevent the return of the bad old days of foreign imperialist domination.

China and Korea

Perhaps the U.S. foreign policy establishment thought this history was forgotten in China when it sent Hillary Clinton and her entourage to try to intimidate or inveigle the Chinese leaders into going along with the Washington-Seoul campaign against the DPRK. But a report in the May 25 New York Times indicates otherwise.

It says that after the U.S.-China talks concluded, the U.S. had “made little progress on winning China’s backing for international measures against North Korea over the sinking of a South Korean warship” and that “there was no immediate prospect of a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the attack.” China, as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, would have veto power over such a resolution.

The report also admitted that the Chinese government had “expressed skepticism” about the DPRK responsibility for the sinking.

This was the first time that the U.S. media had even allowed for the possibility that the story might not be true.

This does not mean, however, that Washington and Seoul are ready to abandon either their diplomatic or military efforts against the DPRK. Their joint exercises are scheduled to go on.

In response, the DPRK has announced it is severing all ties with the south and is banning their ships and planes from the north’s air and sea space. It also accused the south of “provocative acts,” including the intrusion of dozens of warships into its territorial waters from May 14 to 24.

Workers in the U.S. need to resist the barrage of propaganda against the DPRK that is a prelude to aggressive acts against that country. They should remember how Washington orchestrated a similar scenario in preparation for the invasion of Iraq. Today those concocted stories of “weapons of mass destruction” have no weight, but the war happened anyway, with all its horrible consequences. It must not happen again.

E-mail: dgriswold@workers.org