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Issue #1588      April 10, 2013

Editorial

Korean Peninsula – who is being “bellicose” and “provocative”?

“Bellicose” and “provocative” – those are the words used over and over by the capitalist media to describe the actions the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and statements by its leadership in recent times. Scarcely any context is given to explain developments in the strained relationship between the DPRK, its South Korean neighbour and the USA. What little that is provided amounts to speculation about what might be in the mind of the new leader of the country, Kim Jong-un. “Maybe the young leader is trying to assert his authority in the eyes of the military.” “Maybe he wants to distract the population from the economic problems of the DPRK,” and so on, and so forth without any reference to facts.

The corporate media can always be relied on to stoke the fires of hatred. Items carrying unconvincing claims of camps containing hundreds of thousands of starved and tortured political prisoners are being published again. Reports about parents eating their children in a supposedly ongoing famine have resurfaced. The notion that Communists eat babies was first trotted out at the time of the Russian Revolution and has never completely been retired. And, of course, the country is “isolated”, “paranoid” and “Stalinist” in the eyes of an increasing tabloid-style corporate media.

Imperialism’s media/industrial complex has no interest in informing the public to allow it to make considered judgements. It is partisan; its objective is to tarnish any alternative to capitalism in the eyes of exploited people and to justify the crushing of any successful attempt to break free of imperialism’s grip. Invasions have been planned and tried but, short of military attack, socialist countries have always been subject to punishing trade and diplomatic restrictions. In some cases, such as Cuba and the DPRK, they have been extreme and deadly. The reaction to this aggression against these usually small states is then provided as evidence of “isolation” and “paranoia”.

The history of the DPRK is the classic example of a US-led campaign to stand truth on its head. Despite the presence of tens of thousands of US troops on its borders with terrifying military equipment including nuclear weapons, despite regular, provocative joint military exercises with its South Korean client state, despite the vivid memory of the carpet bombing, napalming and germ warfare against the DPRK during the war of 1950–1953 and the loss of five million lives, the leadership of the country has consistently called for:

  • A peace treaty to formally end the war
  • Reunification of the country divided by the US in 1945
  • An end to the US occupation of the south and the annual, month-long joint military exercises
  • Bilateral talks to ease tensions between the US and the DPRK

These calls for peace have been persistently rejected. Fraught six-party talks aimed at removing the DPRK’s nuclear deterrent were imposed instead. The US/South Korean “war games” have become more and more threatening since the passing of late leader Kim Jong-il. The change of posture also coincides with US President Obama’s announcement of a military “pivot” towards Asia with its ultimate military objective of China. The latest manoeuvres included scenarios for the “pre-emptive” invasion of the DPRK. Nuclear weapons capable B-52s and the B-2 stealth bombers have dropped inert bombs less than 30 kilometres away from the North/South border in mock bombing runs on the DPRK.

This is the context of the DPRK’s decision to deploy missiles, mobilise its troops, call for foreign diplomats to leave the country for their own safety and to cut communications with the South Korean government of President Park Geun-hye, who just so happens to be daughter of General Park Chung-hee, the late, ruthless dictator of South Korea. The defiant statements emanating from Pyongyang are being portrayed by many (including Prime Minister Gillard) as the utterly unprovoked taunts of a “rogue” regime.

It is worthwhile asking what the response would be if the situation were reversed – if a socialist country moved state of the art military equipment close to the borders of the US. The last time that happened – during the Cuban missile crisis – the US moved the planet as close to a nuclear winter as it has ever come. So, when the government of the DPRK issues strongly worded statements in response to the mobilisation of masses of troops and huge quantities of war-fighting materiel right up to its border, it’s worthwhile asking, who is really being “bellicose” and “provocative”? Who is really engaging in “sabre rattling”?

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