Statement by Brian Becker, Co-Chairperson US Out of Korea Committee, February 4, 1999
It’s almost a half a century since the open military conflict in the Korean peninsula ended with the signing of the armistice agreement on June 27, 1953.
Nearly fifty years later and no peace treaty. Why? Because the United States government wants to continue the occupation of the southern half of Korea by more than 40,000 US troops. The legal pretext for this occupation is that the Korean War has not ended. Refusing to sign a Peace Treaty allows the US to assert that the Parties are still technically at war. But beneath the “legal” rationale lies the grim reality that Korea remains an occupied country. No country can be truly sovereign, free, and independent when foreign soldiers occupy its soil.
The Korean War continues not only in the juridical sphere, it continues in the economic, military, and diplomatic policy of the United States government. Economic sanctions are an act of war. They are a tactic in war. The human consequences of protracted economic sanctions are often greater than actual military conflict. Economic sanctions destroy the most vulnerable sectors in society. They target young children and their grandparents – those most vulnerable to the effects of the absence of food and medicine.
US Out of Korea Committee (USOKC)
has existed in the United States for nearly twenty years. It is an organisation that has held scores of demonstrations and picket lines against the US occupation of south Korea. It has held seminars and conferences to raise awareness about the issue of Korea in the U. S.
On September 19, 1998, the USOKC held a meeting at the United Nations Church Centre in New York City featuring Ramsey Clark, prominent leaders from the US peace movement, and the Korean American community. This meeting launched a new national campaign initiated by the USOKC around three demands: I.) U. S. sign a peace treaty now to end the Korean War. 2) US troops and weapons out of south Korea. 3) End economic sanctions on the DPRK.
This campaign is winning the support and endorsement of hundreds of organisations and prominent individuals who oppose militarism and who support genuine self-determination for the Korean people.
US plans a new war against north Korea
The U. S. Out of Korea Committee is now organising against the danger of a new U. S. war against Korea. The new situation requires analysis. More urgently it requires action.
In the recent months, the Pentagon has outlined a blueprint for a new Korean war. Since the collapse of the USSR, US imperialism, feeling unfettered by any matching military force, has become emboldened in believing that it can reshape the world by the exercise of US military power. The invasion of Panama ten years ago, the ongoing war against Iraq and the full-scale US military occupation of the countries of the Middle East, the NATO intervention into Yugoslavia, the military occupation of Somalia, the US occupation of Haiti, and now the preparations for a new Korean war are an indication of this trend towards all-out militarism.
The new military doctrine towards the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea calls for a “
US invasion of north Korea, the destruction of the Korean People’s Army and the north Korean government in Pyongyang
.” US troops would occupy north Korea and “
Washington and Seoul will then abolish north Korea as a state and ‘reorganise’ it under south Korean control
,” according to an article that appeared in the December 3, 1998, issue of the
Far Eastern Economic Review
. The author of this article, Richard Halloran, also wrote another piece in the Nov. 23, 1998,
where he quoted an unnamed Clinton Administration official as saying: “
When we’re done, they will not be able to mount any military activity of any kind. We will kill them all.
This new military doctrine must be taken seriously. The authorities in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea take this development seriously. They are clearly not intimidated and have made clear from the public pronouncements of the DPRK that they are preparing to meet the threat of a new war with the United States.
In a December 2 statement, the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) commented on the media reports about the Pentagon’s “Operation Plan 5027.” The KPA statement explains that the US plan has five stages:
The first stage is a ‘control’ stage. Under the pretext of ‘controlling’ the actions of the DPRK
the US is to amass its aggression forces in and around south Korea and impose full-scale sanctions upon the DPRK by blocking its sky, seas, and border
This, the KPA notes, has already happened.
In the next stage, the US would launch long-range artillery and air strikes at the DPRK. The KPA says the US has been stealthily deploying naval and air forces around the area.
The third stage would be a “ground offensive operation” in which the US would land troops on
both coasts of the DPRK and encircle the capital. Next would be an expansion of the occupation to the whole of north Korea.
The final stage would be to put the north under the control of south Korea – a US puppet.
In testimony before the US Senate Armed Service Committee on February 2, 1999, CIA director George Tenet intensified the propaganda war against the DPRK
Tenet even suggested that the DPRK
was a nuclear threat against the United States itself. CIA director Tenet told the US Senators that the DPRK was working on a new generation of missiles that could soon “
be able to deliver large payloads” to the continental United States” (New York Times
, February 3, 1999). This is part of a two-fold effort by the US government to: (1) cancel the 1994 agreement between the US and the DPRK, and (2) present the rationale for new US military aggression against the DPRK.
Is a new war in the Korean peninsula plausible? At first sight it would seem ludicrous. The last Korean War (195053) ended with US/UN forces being driven back below the 38th parallel and a stalemated conclusion – but only after millions of people had been killed and tens of millions made homeless.
But just because a new war is irrational does not mean that it cannot emerge as the centrepiece of the thinking of the Pentagon and CIA establishment. The Vietnam War was irrational, but that didn’t mean that the Pentagon didn’t drag out that conflict for thirteen long years before the US war effort was defeated by the National Liberation Forces of Vietnam and the worldwide antiwar movement.
Peace-loving people must be urgently made aware of this new danger. Not only do 40,000 US troops occupy south Korea, but the US military stockpile in the region includes hundreds and perhaps thousands of nuclear weapons. The demilitarised zone (DMZ) at the 38th parallel remains the most highly militarised piece of territory on the entire planet.
Underlying the US war drive is (1) the geo-political calculations of US imperialism in Asia and (2) the desire to re-expand the US economy by engaging in another round of massive military expenditures. During the Reagan administration the US spent $2 trillion on new military expenditures even though it was peace time. The public explanation for this massive military build-up was the so-called Soviet threat. Now that the Soviet Union has collapsed the US Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) is urgently seeking new justifications for another round of militarism. A US government-financed Military-Industrial Complex is understood to be the essential element for stability in the US economy.
Time to build a new anti-war movement
The USOKC believes that it must be a central priority for all those who oppose war and militarism to unite around opposition to a second Korean War. The people of the United States have a central responsibility to counter the war plans of the US government.
A little over thirty years ago during the Vietnam War, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King made the statement, “
The United States government is the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet
.” Dr. King was reacting to the carnage inflicted on the Vietnamese people by the US war machine. Dr. King’s observations three decades ago are still relevant today. The United States government, instead of spending hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons of mass destruction, to be used against working people in Korea, should spend money to provide healthcare, housing, and jobs. What kind of society is it in which one percent of the population owns forty percent of the country’s wealth, where three hundred billion dollars are spent annually on warfare, while fifty million of its own people live below the poverty level?
What kind of government is it that seeks to use food and medicine as a weapon for domination rather than to feed hungry people and cure the sick?
The USOKC takes the message that the growing tension in the Korean peninsula is not some faraway issue for the people of the United States. It is a life and death question for people everywhere. It is the goal of our committee to raise awareness and consciousness about Korea, to demand that the US stop threatening the DPRK; that the US troops leave southern Korea; that US-backed financial institutions, such as the IMF, stop attempting to turn south Korea into an economic colony; and that the people of the United States become active participants in the struggle to respect the inalienable right of the Korean people to determine their own destiny free from outside interference.
(THIS ARTICLE is reproduced from the Spring 1999 Bulletin of the Society for Friendship with Korea. Readers wishing to join the Society should contact the SFK at PO Box 9135 Acton London W3 6DG, or via Lalkar. SFK fully supports USOKC’s above statement).