The progressive movements in the United States — those struggling for the rights of people of color, low-wage workers, women, immigrants, the LGBTQ and disability rights communities, the environment and much more — need to take note of the discussion going on within U.S. ruling circles about whether to launch military measures against north Korea that could lead to a nuclear war. They call it the “bloody-nose option.”
We could say that starting a nuclear war is unthinkable. But they are thinking about it. And planning for it.
The evidence is abundant.
Victor Cha, who was a leading candidate for the position of U.S. ambassador to south Korea, was dropped from consideration for the post after he wrote an op-ed piece for the Jan. 29 Washington Post in which he rejected “as some Trump administration officials have suggested, a preventive military strike.”
Cha, a former Bush administration official, is no dove. Nor did he express any sympathy for the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the northern, socialist half of the Korean peninsula, in the event of such a war. Cha proposed in his op-ed what he called “a forceful military option available that can address the threat without escalating into a war that would likely kill tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Americans.”
Even suggesting that the U.S. should not provoke a nuclear war was enough to get him barred from a post in this administration.
Trump’s State of the Union address
An article in The Atlantic of Jan. 31 was headlined “Is Trump Preparing for War with North Korea?” It begins, “The more closely you read Donald Trump’s comments about North Korea in his State of the Union address, the more plausible it becomes that he is preparing for war.”
The magazine noted that in his speech, “Trump devoted a mere sentence to Russia and China. He devoted 23 words to Israel, 34 to Afghanistan, and 48 to Iran. Even the war against ISIS, which Trump cites as the main foreign-policy achievement of his first year in office, garnered only 302 words. North Korea received 475.
“Second, there are the things Trump didn’t say. The Olympics begin in South Korea in 10 days, and the South Korean government hopes participation by athletes from the North will ease hostility on the Peninsula. But Trump didn’t mention the games. In fact, he didn’t mention diplomacy at all.”
Henry Kissinger’s testimony to Senate
Henry Kissinger, in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Jan. 25, admitted that “North Korea acquired nuclear weapons to assure its regime’s survival; in its view, to give them up would be tantamount to suicide.” Nevertheless, he went on to argue that any negotiations with the DPRK “need to be steps towards this ultimate goal: the dismantlement of Pyongyang’s existing arsenal. They must not repeat the experience of the Vietnamese and Korean negotiations, which were used as means to buy time to further pursue their adversarial objectives.”
Kissinger’s hawkish testimony got little mention in the U.S. media. But the right-wing British tabloid Daily Mail of Jan. 2 was excited and wrote: “Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has said that the temptation to launch a pre-emptive strike on North Korea ‘is strong and the argument rational.’ He told a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that North Korea poses the most immediate threat to global security, arguing that denuclearization of the regime must be a ‘fundamental’ American foreign policy goal.”
DPRK has no right to defend itself?
What it all boils down to is this: There are forceful elements in the Trump administration and the Pentagon who refuse to accept the existence of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and are willing to engage in a nuclear war against it.
They admit that the DPRK has acquired nuclear weapons in order to defend itself against attack. Yet they turn that into a reason to carry out such an attack.
What has the DPRK done to warrant an attack by the U.S.? Has it attacked anyone? No. Has it sent troops outside its borders? No. Does it have nuclear-capable ships, planes and submarines circling the globe? No.
The imperialist U.S. government, so totally an arm of the billionaire ruling class, is the aggressor, not the DPRK, which for decades has endured U.S. threats of invasion through annual war “games” simulating an attack.
A Feb. 1 editorial in the New York Times, “Playing with Fire and Fury on North Korea,” ended with this admission: “The United States has been at war continuously since the attacks of Sept. 11 and now has just over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories. Enough.”
This was written only two days after the same paper, in a Jan. 30 editorial on the State of the Union speech, said that Trump “deserved to take a bow” for “tightening sanctions on North Korea.” Now, however, the war danger has finally sunk in. The Times editors may argue that sanctions are an alternative to war. But, in fact, they are a prelude to war, in the thinking of Trump and much of the military.
Letter of Korean foreign minister to U.N.
This was underscored in a letter sent Jan. 31 by DPRK Minister for Foreign Affairs Ri Yong Ho to U.N. Secretary General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres.
After referring to the “inter-Korean dialogue” that has led to the “continued easing of tension on the Korean peninsula,” Minister Ri says that the U.S. is “seeking to intentionally aggravate the situation by introducing the strategic assets including nuclear powered aircraft carrier groups into the vicinity of the Korean peninsula at a time when north and south are charting a course of peace together.”
Ri says that “the scope of troop and war equipment being introduced” and “the U.S. current moves of military reinforcements are designed to make preemptive strike against the DPRK” and “drive the situation of the Korean peninsula into an unpredictable dangerous phase.”
He asks that “the issue of welcoming the process of improved inter-Korean relations and discouraging the neighboring countries from disturbing the process” be taken up in the U.N. Security Council.
A history of U.S. pretexts for war
Many historians have exposed the pretexts that U.S. imperialist governments have manufactured in the past to rally the people of this country behind wars that benefitted only the ruling class and cost the lives of so many working people on both sides.
The explosion of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor was the pretext used to start the Spanish-American War in 1898, in which the U.S. grabbed Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines away from Spain. U.S. naval investigators in 1976 concluded that the explosion had been caused by a fire onboard the Maine that ignited munitions stocks — not by a Spanish mine, as charged by the war-mongering Hearst newspapers at the time.
The U.S. escalated the war in Vietnam in 1964 after claiming that North Vietnamese patrol boats had attacked the destroyer USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin. But an article in Naval History Magazine of February 2008 by U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Pat Patterson admitted that “once-classified documents and tapes released in the past several years, combined with previously uncovered facts, make clear that high government officials distorted facts and deceived the American public about events that led to full U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.”
The U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, claiming it had “weapons of mass destruction.” But the Iraq Survey Group of the U.S. Defense Department itself issued a report on Sept. 30, 2004, reporting: “The ISG has not found evidence that Saddam possessed WMD stocks in 2003.”
Phony pretexts for war have worked in the past. Are the White House and Pentagon secretly plotting to create a pretext for an attack on the DPRK?
We must not wait for an unthinkable disaster to happen. Progressive movements must be alerted now to the real possibility that the U.S. is planning an attack on the DPRK. In addition to the catastrophe this would mean for all the Korean people, a byproduct would be a huge setback for every struggle for social justice. War breeds repression at home — in the name of “national unity.”
Unite behind Trump and the Pentagon? No! Let’s all unite to say, “No war, no way — Hands off Korea!”