Sword of War in the Korean Peninsula

Peace in the Korean Peninsula is just a fog if seen from the periscope of the U.S. Making it transparent would be asking the U.S. forces for an exit from the peninsula.

By Bobby Tuazon

Peace in the Korean Peninsula is just a fog if seen from the periscope of the U.S. Making it transparent would be asking the U.S. forces for an exit from the peninsula.

For years, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) has been asking the United States to enter into a non-aggression treaty in exchange for Pyongyang’s dismantling of its nuclear program. But the U.S. hasn’t been buying this, threatening instead to bomb North Korea with nuclear missiles while increasing the number and firepower of its deployed forces and nuclear-armed warships in the Sea of Japan, South Korea and Okinawa in Japan.

Both North Korea and South Korea, which are separated by the 38th parallel, began reunification talks in the mid-1990s under Seoul’s “sunshine policy” and in fact this was highlighted by the reunion across the border of families that had been separated by war. The reunification process had been set earlier with the signing by the two countries of the Mutual Non-Aggression Treaty in 1991. The talks were welcomed by many people in both countries as a prelude to peace in the whole Korean Peninsula. Economic cooperation plans were underway.

The U.S. torpedoed the whole process. In 1998, the Pentagon renewed its war blueprint against Pyongyang and conducted a simulated nuclear bomb attack on North Korea. U.S. President George W. Bush, Jr. in 2001 named North Korea in his “axis of evil” along with Iraq, Iran and Cuba, accusing it of hiding “weapons of mass destruction.” This was followed by the inclusion of North Korea as a target in the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review and the following year by a blunt threat from Bush, during his State of the Union speech, that he would launch a pre-emptive attack against North Korea unless it dismantled its WMDs.

Somewhere in-between, Washington provoked North Korea into resuming its nuclear program by stopping shipments of heavy fuel for light water reactors that Pyongyang badly needed for its energy and food production as provided for under the 1994 U.S.-North Korea “Agreed upon Framework.” Critics said the U.S. deliberately stopped complying with its own obligations under the agreement as a means of blackmailing Pyongyang to accede to American terms and preconditions. In October 2001 and upon instructions by Bush, U.S. Assistant State Secretary James Kelly told North Korean Foreign Minister Kim Gye Wan in Pyongyang “that the U.S. now had a precondition to further engagement (negotiations on the nuclear issue) – that the DPRK’s uranium enrichment program be dismantled immediately.”

North Korea had had it when, in late 2005, sanctions being implemented against it by Washington forced U.S. banks to end transactions with a number of Asian and European banks that have Pyongyang accounts. Under the pretext of opposing “illicit activities,” the U.S. sanctions were aimed at restricting North Korea’s limited access to foreign exchange and economically strangling the country.

Source of tension

What is the real source of tension in the Korean Peninsula? Why has the U.S. scuttled the Korean reunification process and continues to reject Pyongyang’s reasonable demand for the U.S. to sign a non-aggression treaty so that North Korea, appeased by the permanent withdrawal of nuclear threat by the world’s superpower with an arsenal of 10,000 nuclear warheads, will close its nuclear program?

Let’s hear it from two U.S. conservative foreign policy thinkers:

“Reunification,” said the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based foreign policy think tank, “threatens vital U.S. interests in Korea…The emergence of a reunified Korea might prompt the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the ROK (Republic of Korea or South Korea) and mean the end of the special security role and influence of the United States in East Asia, a reunified Korea may mean the loss of the ROK as the sixth largest importer of U.S. arms.”

Former Secretary of State and foreign policy realist Henry Kissinger said the same thing in a 2001 Washington Post article: “Were tensions to ease dramatically, the presence of American troops could become highly controversial within South Korea. In turn, if these forces were removed, the future of American bases in Japan would become problematic. And if American troops left the rim of Asia, an entirely new security and, above all, political situation would arise all over the continent. Were this to happen, even a positive evolution on the Korean peninsula could lead to a quest for autonomous defense policies in Seoul and Tokyo and to a growth of nationalism in Japan, China and Korea.”

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