Friday, February 09, 2018

Olympics and peace on the Korean pennisula

As the PyeongChang Winter Olympics begin, my friend Christine Ahn keeps on doing what she has been doing for years: traveling tirelessly to promote reconciliation between the two Koreas and urging restraint on their bellicose backers -- most notably her own United States. In 2015, she was a leader of a women's walk across the so-called "demilitarized zone" which is the border between these two states cut apart by post-World War II imperial jockeying. Today she is on tour, currently in Albany, NY, talking to whoever will listen about the possibilities for peace. This is how a peace movement is built, through a combination of dramatic citizen actions and patient education to preempt the war machine.

Here are some excerpts from Christine's oped column in the Albany Times Union:

Whether called the "bloody nose" strategy or "preventive war," a hawkish cabal in the White House are advocating for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea. They believe they can deal a targeted blow to Pyongyang's nuclear facilities before a North Korean nuclear missile can reach the United States. ...

Like with past U.S. "precision" strikes, this is pure fantasy. Vietnam. Afghanistan. Iraq. North Korea is different. It has an arsenal of at least 20 nuclear weapons.

But North Korea is not suicidal. The former chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Dennis Blair, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea is "only an imminent threat if we make it an imminent threat. We've been talking these guys up a lot more than they deserve."

Yet, hawks in the White House are gunning for a new Korean War, even though we know for a fact that in the opening days of a conventional military conflict, at least 300,000 people would be killed, according to the Congressional Research Service. If nuclear weapons are used, 25 million people would be impacted. The Pentagon estimates any military action to secure North Korean nuclear sites would require a ground invasion, which would require hundreds of thousands of troops.

But as war plans are being drawn in Washington, North Korea and South Korea are sitting down to talk. ...

The U.S. president and his generals are dangerous men, in danger of believing their own feverish fantasies of perfect victories over evil. We've seen far more well balanced leaders launch themselves and us on this sort of perilous adventure. But this time, there is an isolated state with nukes that fears for its very existence.

North Korea seems to be a pretty awful place for North Koreans. After seven decades of separation, the two Koreas have become quite different societies with different values, despite sharing a history and language. Previous Korean-to-Korean peace efforts have brought no breakthroughs.

There have been various attempts in U.S. media to convey what a U.S. "bloody nose" strike on North Korea might look like. North Korea has ample capacity to strike back; most of the victims would be Korean or perhaps Japanese and their deaths would be on us.

The moral truth remains: history and any survivors will not look kindly on any state that starts a nuclear war, as any war-like move by the United States might well do. Is this where we are going? Thanks Christine for trying to stop it.


Rain Trueax said...

Desiring a united Korea would have to ask the question- who runs it? South Korea has benefited from worldwide support of it and manufacturing there. North Korea has a leader who has murdered his own relatives to keep power. Despite receiving his education in Europe, we don't know much about that person but he's not elected. Of course, anybody would want to not see a war but it's impossible to ignore a leader who talks of reaching the US with a nuke. Trump did not create this. Actually Clinton sent money to NK to encourage them to develop in healthier ways. That worked soooo well. Then Bush labeled them part of an axis of evil but did nothing about it. So now, here we are. As it stands, the overtures to SK with the Olympics are encouraging that maybe there is hope this can end in a way that doesn't mean devastation. If someone looks at both Koreas though the question logically has to be asked-- if they could unite, who would control their nation, which could have great economic power as well as the capacity to use a nuke on a warhead. It has worked pretty well with Vietnam to be one nation again but are the same dynamics at work with NK?

janinsanfran said...

Hi Rain: currently young South Koreans seem far less devoted to reunification than older South Koreans.

It seems very unlikely that US meddling in Korean politics is going to have a happy result. One reason South Korea has succeeded so well economically (after it got rid of several US backed dictators) has been that it counted on the US to back up its own military should the Kim regime in the North try to impose itself.

It is going to take Koreans making peace to get peace.

Rain Trueax said...

I agree. Our meddling never ends well with the countries or for our own. Still, it's hard not to care when we see how awful it is in NK for the citizens. Very sad and then the thought of more war is even worse :(.