By Alice Slater, IDN, April 21, 2023
It is far beyond hypocrisy for the US and its allies to condemn North Korea for testing a long-range missile when the US boasts about its Air Force Global Strike Command of more than 33,700 Airmen and civilians responsible for the nation’s three intercontinental ballistic missile wings capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Indeed, a US Minute Man Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (IBM) was tested this past February, with another scheduled for this August.
The 1950-1953 Korean War is the longest-standing US conflict. It has never actually ended. It was only suspended by a truce and armistice between North Korea, representing the Korean People’s Army and the Chinese People’s Volunteers and the United States, representing the multinational UN Command.
During this endless armistice, we have had US troops stationed in South Korea, amassed on North Korea’s border, organizing “war games” and manoeuvres with South Korean troops in a continuous series of threats over the years against a heavily armed North Korea.
Various peace initiatives were contemplated, but the US withdrew from them or didn’t follow through. During those years, North Korea persisted in requesting a peace treaty, offering to stop enriching “peaceful” reactor material to bomb-grade in return for a lifting of punishing sanctions that were causing great stress and poverty to the people of North Korea.
It froze its nuclear program after an agreement with the Clinton administration but started it up again when President Bush in 2002 stopped honouring the Clinton agreements and characterized North Korea as part of the “axis of evil”.
In 2017, South Korea elected a new President, Moon Jae-in, who campaigned for a “Sunshine Policy” and for peaceful Korean reunification.
Ironically, at a United Nations First Committee Meeting for Disarmament in 2017, when the amazing International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) succeeded in its ten-year campaign to bring a vote to the UN floor for negotiations on a treaty to ban the bomb, five western nuclear powers, the US, UK, France, Russia, and Israel voted NO.
China, Pakistan, and India abstained, and North Korea was the only nuclear weapon state to vote YES for negotiations on the new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which was adopted later that year at a special UN negotiating session!
It was clear that North Korea was sending a signal to the world as the only nuclear weapon state to approve the talks to negotiate a ban treaty. But just as the Western reporting about North Korea today fails to acknowledge the extraordinary provocations North Korea suffers at the hand of the Western colonial powers and their allies, not a word about North Korea’s startling vote was reported in the mainstream media.
During the Trump Presidency, some progress was made in negotiations between the US and North Korea, with a supportive new peace president in South Korea, but Congress refused to honour Trump’s promise to Kim Jong Un that the US would remove some of our troops from South Korea as part of a peace deal for North Korea to forego the development of nuclear weapons.
In the United States, there is a growing movement of people inspired by the Women Cross DMZ, which in 2015 organized an unprecedented crossing of the De-Militarized Zone that separates North and South Korea, where 30 women, including Nobel Peace laureates and feminist leaders, joined with 10,000 Korean women on both sides of the DMZ.
Through their efforts, and on behalf of an estimated 100,000 people who cannot visit their families in the Koreas—two nations which continue to live in a perpetual state of war—there is legislation pending in the US House of Representatives, H.R. 1369, Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act, calling for a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War. It also calls for a review of the travel restrictions to North Korea and the establishment of liaison offices in both countries.
It is time to reevaluate our perception of North Korea, and treat it, not as a country planning to attack us with nuclear bombs but as a country that wants relief from the harsh sanctions and isolation it has endured these long 76 years.
The sooner we understand how the Empire has contributed to the “evil doings” of North Korea, the more true security we will gain. In the memorable words of Pogo Possum, the Walt Kelly comic character who entertained us during the red scare of the 1950s, “We have met the enemy and he is us!”
* Alice Slater serves on the boards of World Beyond War and the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space and is an NGO representative to the UN for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Please, please, please! I urge you to consider voting to restart nuclear disarmament talks and resolutions with North Korea rift their sake, the sake of South Korea, the United States and the world!