The talks held in Singapore on 12 June between the leader of the socialist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Comrade Kim Jong Un, and the President of the United States of America, (USA) Donald J Trump, constitute an historic victory for the Korean people in their long struggle against US imperialism for national reunification and the building of socialism.
Throughout the 70 years since the DPRK was founded on 9 September 1948, the United States has:
• Waged a three-year genocidal war against the Korean people which claimed some four million lives and completely devastated the country
• Refused to turn the armistice into a peace treaty thereby perpetuating an effective state of war
• Occupied the south of the Korean peninsula with tens of thousands of troops and the most advanced weapons, staging massive war rehearsals several times a year
• Introduced nuclear weapons to the Korean peninsula and regularly threatened the DPRK with a nuclear holocaust
• Imposed the longest lasting and most draconian sanctions in history, aimed at literally starving the Korean people into submission
• Used every conceivable form of disinformation and psychological warfare to demonise the DPRK and its popular revolutionary leadership and hence isolate the country.
Indeed, it was less than a year ago that Trump stood at the rostrum of the United Nations General Assembly and openly threatened to “completely destroy north Korea”. Shortly before that, he had threatened “fire and fury like the world has never seen” should the DPRK not accede to his demands.
It should be noted that, whilst Trump chose to threaten the DPRK in his own characteristically idiosyncratic and hyperbolic fashion, in real terms his threats to the country were not one jot different from those of every other occupant of the White House for the last seven decades without exception.
However, given that the DPRK’s door has always been open for a respectful dialogue between equals, it must be said that Mr Trump deserves a degree of credit for having the courage to do what none of his predecessors had the guts or integrity to do whilst in office – to accept an outstretched hand and to agree to sit as equals on neutral ground with his DPRK counterpart and discuss matters of common concern in a manner that befits the leaders of two sovereign nations.
But if Trump deserves a measure of credit for this, we should be absolutely clear – the real factors that finally brought US imperialism to the negotiating table at summit level were the decade-after-decade heroic and tenacious resistance of the Korean people, their rock-solid unity around their vanguard Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and its tested leadership, and above all this tiny country’s self-reliant development of nuclear weapons and the means for their delivery, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), which very effectively removed from the table the preferred imperialist option of raining “fire and fury” on defenceless people with no ability to fight back. It somewhat reminds this writer of graffiti once popular in Belfast: “God made the Catholics but the Armalite made them equal.”
Following a day of talks, which are generally considered to have progressed better than expected, Comrade Kim Jong Un and President Trump signed an important joint statement, which reads as follows:
“Kim Jong Un, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Donald J Trump, president of the United States of America, held the first historic summit in Singapore on 12 June 2018.
“Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Trump conducted a comprehensive, in-depth and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new DPRK-US relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean peninsula.
“President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
“Convinced that the establishment of new DPRK-US relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean peninsula and of the world, and recognising that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Trump state the following:
“1. The DPRK and the United States commit to establish new DPRK-US relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
“2. The DPRK and the United States will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean peninsula.
“3. Reaffirming the 27 April 2018 Panmunjom Declaration [signed between Kim Jong Un and south Korean president Mun Jae In – Ed.], the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
“4. The DPRK and the United States commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
“Having acknowledged that the DPRK-US summit, the first in history, was an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for opening of a new future, Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Trump commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously.
“The DPRK and the United States commit to hold follow-on negotiations led by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the DPRK-US summit.
“Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and President Donald J Trump of the United States of America have committed to cooperate for the development of new DPRK-US relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean peninsula and of the world.”
The DPRK made no concession of principle in this joint statement. Rather the concessions were made by the US side:
• Complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula has been the consistent policy of the DPRK. Indeed, following the country’s first nuclear test, it was referred to as the final instruction of President Kim Il Sung, the DPRK’s revered founding father. As it was the United States that first introduced nuclear weapons to Korea and has consistently used them to threaten the north, complete denuclearisation of the peninsula can by no means be reduced simply to a unilateral step by the DPRK.
• The US had all along been insisting that the DPRK take immediate steps to disarm and that such nuclear disarmament be “complete, verifiable and irreversible” (CVID). Such language, however, is completely missing from the joint statement. Moreover, whilst President Trump and members of his team continue publicly to insist that the sanctions regime and other forms of pressure will remain in place until denuclearisation occurs, the statement’s recognition that “mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”, lends credence to the DPRK’s subsequent assertion that the progressive lifting of sanctions would form an integral part of the peace process.
• The recovery and repatriation of POW/MIA remains is a simple humanitarian gesture which the DPRK has always been happy to make whenever there has been a modicum of dialogue with the US side.
Clearly, the whole tenor of the joint statement indicates that it is the US side that made significant concessions to the DPRK rather than the other way round, something that Trump’s churlish domestic critics, foremost among them those sanctimonious liberals who but yesterday were excoriating him for supposedly being a warmonger, have been quick to point out, in an attempt to undo the summit’s achievements. However, every opinion poll indicates that a clear majority of the American people support Trump’s rapprochement with the DPRK.
In a lengthy press conference following the conclusion of his talks with Kim Jong Un, Trump went further and made a surprise announcement that, while he was in dialogue with the DPRK, he would suspend major military exercises with south Korea, dubbing them war games and conceding that they were “extremely provocative”, as the DPRK had always insisted and the USA had always angrily denied.
As with his original acceptance of Kim Jong Un’s invitation to meet, Trump’s cancellation of the war games caught the US establishment on the hoof and clearly displeased. However, on 22 June, the Pentagon confirmed that it had “indefinitely suspended” such exercises, including Ulchi Freedom Guardian, a massive wargame hitherto annually staged in August. Earlier, on 18 June, the Pentagon stated that it had frozen all planning for this year’s Freedom Guardian exercise.
Considering that just a few short months ago the clouds of a possible nuclear war were hanging heavily over the Korean peninsula, the results of the summit have been warmly welcomed around the world. Going into the talks, Comrade Kim Jong Un’s hand was considerably strengthened by, in rapid succession, his two meetings with President Mun of south Korea, his two visits to China for talks with Comrade Xi Jinping, as well as his meetings in Pyongyang with the head of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Department and the Foreign Ministers of China and Russia.
Then, hot on the heels of the Singapore summit, Kim Jong Un paid his third visit to China in 100 days from 19-20 June, and is expected to meet with President Putin within this year. The imperialist lie, so assiduously promoted by the opportunist left as well, that the DPRK is an isolated country without friends has lost any vestige of credibility.
At a banquet in honour of his Korean guest, “Xi Jinping warmly welcomed Kim Jong Un’s China visit, saying that this fully showed his fixed will to attach great importance to the strengthened strategic communication between the two parties of China and the DPRK and develop the traditional friendship of the two countries and demonstrated to the whole world the invincibility of the relations between the two parties and two countries.
“After Chairman Kim Jong Un’s China visit in March, the China-DPRK relations have entered a new phase of development and the important joint agreements of both sides are being implemented one by one and the China-DPRK relations of friendship and cooperation are in new vigour, Xi Jinping stated.
“Noting that Kim Jong Un has made great efforts to protect peace and stability of the Korean peninsula by leading the Korean people and further consolidated the trend of dialogue and détente on the peninsula, Xi Jinping said he is pleased to see it and highly appreciates it.
“He affirmed that China and the DPRK would learn, consult, unite and cooperate with each other as close friends and comrades to jointly open up rosier and beautiful future of the socialist cause in the two countries.
“Kim Jong Un said he is very glad to meet again Xi Jinping and other close Chinese comrades at the time when a new historic current is being created in the Korean peninsula and the region with the successful DPRK-US summit…
“Saying the picture of the DPRK and China sharing joy and sorrow and sincerely helping and cooperating with each other like family members clearly demonstrates at home and abroad that the relations between the two parties and two countries are developing into the unprecedentedly special relationship beyond the traditional ties, Kim Jong Un stated that he would make every possible effort to steadily develop the DPRK-China friendly relations onto a new high level, valuing affinity and affection forged with Xi Jinping.
“He said that he would closely cooperate with the Chinese comrades … in the historic journey of defending socialism and opening up a new future of the Korean peninsula and the region, and fully discharge his responsibility and role to protect genuine peace.” (‘Kim Jong Un Visits China’, KCNA, 20 June 2018)
However, if China, Russia, south Korea, the majority of the American people, and countries and peoples around the world were uplifted by the summit and its outcome, it seems that the unholy cabal of the liberal and conservative US establishment had at least one ally. You might think that an organisation that practically claims and seeks to enforce a monopoly on anti-war work in Britain would welcome the results of the Singapore summit. Alas, dear reader, you would be wrong. In an 18 June email to supporters, the Stop the War Coalition bleats morosely:
“Despite the fanfare surrounding the visit between Trump and Kim Jong Un, the agreement that was signed with north Korea is actually quite far from guaranteeing their total nuclear disarmament.”
Ironically enough, the email is headed, “Just Say No to Trump and War”, but for the misleaders of Stop the War, it seems that nothing short of complete surrender to imperialism on the part of the DPRK will satisfy them. This introduction is linked to an article by Stop the War boss John Rees on their website, which also appeared on the website of his Trotskyite Counterfire sect. Rees, incorrigible counter-revolutionary that he is, laments:
“Kim Jong Un must be laughing all the way to the DMZ. In a single bound he’s escaped from the dunce’s corner of international relations and now bestrides the world as, well, if not quite a colossus, then at least the admired ally of the most powerful head of state in the world.
“China too will be relieved that any likely further pressure to contain their ally has just sharply decreased.”
Describing the summit as a “circus”, Rees complains:
“US Presidents are supposed to at least make a show of pursuing goals agreed on by the entire foreign policy elite, otherwise known as the ‘national interest’. Trump isn’t interested in that, although he sometimes has that approach forced on him by the wider US power structure.
“Trump is interested in his base and his standing with his base. He needed a success in Singapore. So, he just declared one because it works at home. The reality of the deal, the boost it gives North Korea, the gain for China (all the stuff of traditional foreign relations) is secondary to Trump’s ability to strut the world stage in front of his base.
“If there is one thing more dangerous than a US President following the dictates of the foreign policy elite, as Bush did with the Project for the New American Century, it’s a President following his own mercurial interpretation of what viewers of Fox News think is a good idea. But that is where US economic decline wedded to overwhelming military power, plus the aftermath of defeat in Iraq, has brought us.”
What a shame!
Rees concludes his assessment of the Singapore summit with these famous words from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
(‘Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing’: http://www.stopwar.org.uk/index.php/news-comment/3059-sound-and-fury-signifying-nothing)
One can only suggest that with these words, Rees makes clear that his capacity for self-parody has no equal, and further conclude that the task of building a real movement against imperialism and war is one that brooks no further delay.