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Issue #1782      June 21, 2017

War is not an option for Korea

Trump’s aggressive foreign policy stance is startling particularly with regard to the explosive situation in the Korean peninsula. The option which is being considered of a surgical air strike to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear and missile program is a dangerous fantasy, says an activist for peace in Korea.

“Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters at a March 17 news conference in Seoul, South Korea. “All options are on the table,” Tillerson continued, including “an appropriate response” to any North Korean threat.

The United States and People’s Democratic Republic of Korea are like two “accelerating trains coming towards each other”, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned on March 8. North Korea test-fired four ballistic missiles off the coast of Japan as thousands of South Korean, Japanese and US troops, backed by warships and warplanes, were engaging in massive military exercises, including the deployment of the Navy SEALS that killed Osama Bin Laden.

With no communication other than military posturing, Pyongyang is left to interpret Washington’s manoeuvres as preparation for a pre-emptive strike. Given the political vacuum in South Korea following President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment, all tracks are heading towards one destination: war.

At a Council on Foreign Relations discussion on March 13, Mary Beth Long, a former US assistant secretary of defence, advocated for “aggressive movement” given the failure of the Obama administration’s strategic patience, which depended heavily on sanctions to further isolate and foment the collapse of the North Korean government.

Yet as hawks call upon President Trump to deal with the DPRK’s nuclear and missile programs through the use of force, they’re undermining the very pretext the US military has been stationed on the Korean peninsula for seven decades: to protect the South Korean people.

Although the fantasy of surgical strikes to topple “brutal dictators” has long intoxicated American military officials, they’ve been restrained by the sobering reality of such reckless action. In the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton considered a first strike on North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor, the Pentagon concluded that even limited action would claim a million lives in the first 24 hours.

On 8 March, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a proposal: “As a first step, North Korea should suspend nuclear activity, and the US and South Korea should also suspend large-scale military drills.” Calling on both sides to de-escalate and return to talks, Wang proposed a dual track of denuclearisation and establishing a peace mechanism to resolve concerns.

Third World Resurgence

Next article – Britain’s real terror apologists

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